Late last week, the World Health Organization released a study that claimed many beloved food items, namely bacon and other processed meats, could contain carcinogenic materials that may cause cancer later on in life. This promptly lead to an outburst of activity on both traditional and new media platforms, such as CNN and Facebook respectively, with many questioning the legitimacy and severity of the WHO’s claims.

In the report, WHO stated that processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts increase your chances of colon cancer by nearly 18 percent later on in life, while eating a diet high in red meats increases your chance of having colorectal cancer by 17 percent. Though these statistics are a bit eye-opening when taken at face value, some of the other claims that WHO’s study declared make these claims seem less serious.

My whole qualm with this entire situation really rests upon the fact that WHO’s classification system is really outmoded, or at the least it needs to be dramatically revamped. To put the health risks of bacon and cigarettes on the same level just isn’t right. How could you say that cigarettes, which are known to increase your chances of getting lung cancer by nearly 2,500 percent in your lifetime, can be grouped in the same category as bacon, which, should you eat two strips a day, increased your risk of getting colon cancer by 6 percent?

This sort of misinformation is one that can prove to be extremely detrimental to the livelihoods of people everywhere. Though processed foods like bacon and cold cuts are not the healthiest items to eat, especially when eaten frequently, they just simply cannot be put onto the same level as cigarettes are. The risks that come along with smoking are severely greater than those that are associated with eating a couple of strips of bacon in the morning.


For instance, WHO categorized processed meats like bologna into the same carcinogenic group as cigarettes, called “Group 1.” This, naturally, led to many claims that cigarettes were as bad as bacon, and even some articles having a headline reading, “Bacon, Hot Dogs as Bad as Cigarettes.”

WHO has to have an overhaul of its system, and instead of just classifying everything together as being carcinogenic to humans they should have differing levels of severity to the health and wellbeing of people.

Bacon is not nearly as bad for you as a cigarette, and yet WHO is still clinging to this preposterous idea that it is. So, I say to WHO with the utmost sincerity: Do not mess with people’s bacon, as it is not a fight that you will win.


Featured image credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr 



Jonathon is a sophomore majoring in history and minoring in journalism. He joined the Statesman in the fall of his freshman year after walking past the information booth for the Statesman during the involvement fair, and has been writing for the opinions section ever since. After graduation Jonathon hope to pursue a career either as an investigatve journalist or in law enforcement.


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