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Understanding What Bacon Does to Your Body

Health By
Cooked bacon slices are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014. Declining supplies of pigs that resulted from a deadly virus that spread across 30 states since the outbreak began last year have pushed up retail-bacon prices 10 percent in 2014 to $6.106 a pound in June, the highest since at least 1980. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bacon slices. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


There are two truths about Americans and bacon. Truth 1: We love it. (Indeed, we’re eating so much of it the inventory of frozen pork belly is at its lowest levels in 50 years.) Truth 2: Consuming that much packs real risks, as 50 grams of processed meat a day increases the chance of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. (That’s roughly six pieces.) But why is bacon so bad for you? Here are the core reasons:

Nitrates. Processed meats generally contain salts used to preserve the meat. In the body, they become carcinogenic compounds.

The heat. High temperatures create carcinogens in processed meat. Pan-frying is exceptionally risky. (Naturally, it is also particularly tasty.)

A meat molecule. The heme iron molecule combines with nitrates to form N-nitroso compounds, which offer added risks.

Oh, and you’re kidding yourself if you think turkey bacon or “nitrate-free meat” puts you in the clear. (White meat lacks heme iron but includes the other concerns; nitrate-free items still contain nitrate salt from celery juice.)

To read more about why bacon is such a delicious health risk, click here.

RealClearLife Staff