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Global Network

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2011
Contact: Mya Nelson, m.nelson@aicr.org, 202-328-7744 x3047

IN THE NEWS: Bacon, Cigarettes, and Cancer

First it was hot dogs and now it's bacon.

This week, the vegan advocacy group Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) put up an eye-catching billboard in order to highlight the link between the consumption of bacon and other processed meats to increased risk of colorectal cancer.

The billboard features bacon strips poking out of a cigarette pack, which has a large image of a skull and crossbones, similar to their hot dog-cigarette billboard last year.

In backing up the ad's claims, PCRM cites the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) report on colorectal cancer. AICR is not affiliated with PCRM in any way. The report they cite is part of AICR/WCRF's Continuous Update Project (CUP), which built and continuously maintains the world's largest research database on diet, physical activity, weight and cancer. The report on colorectal cancer was released earlier this year.

The CUP report concluded that, if a person eats 3.5 ounces (the size of one jumbo hot dog) of processed meat every day throughout life, their risk of colorectal cancer is 36% higher than someone who eats no processed meat. If the person eats 7 ounces of processed meat every day (49 ounces per week), his risk will be 72% higher. Processed meat includes hot dogs, bacon, sausage and lunchmeat.

That's why AICR recommends saving processed meats for special occasions, such as a slice of ham at Easter or a hot dog at a ball game.

But the PCRM billboard image equates the increased risks of cigarette smoking and cancer to that of processed meat and cancer. And that is misleading.

The increased risk associated with diets high in processed meat is much, much smaller than that of smoking. A man who eats 7 ounces of processed meat daily, every day for decades, increases his risk of cancer by 72 percent.

Compare that to smoking, which multiplies a person's risk by as much as 20 times, according to the CDC. The man who ate 7 ounces of processed meat increased his risk, but it has not even doubled.

For those who have made bacon and other processed meats an everyday part of their diet, visit AICR's Test Kitchen for alternatives.




The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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