It is all over the news today, so of course I need to add my two cents. I just hate when these studies come out and people get scared and start to eliminate a food from their diets just because of one report. The reality is, to be healthy, it is never one simple thing.
If you check it out, according to the World Health Organization, about 34,000 deaths per year worldwide are attributed to diets high in processed meats, but that is still just a small fraction of the 8.2 million deaths caused by cancer in 2012. It is specifically colon cancer they are referring to. The review is actually going to be published in The Lancet so if you are interested, check out the link (you may have to pay for the article when it is published). You can also check out WHO Report.
But I like a realistic look at it, so please take a look at the NYTimes article that explains a bit more about how other factors play a role. Before you cut out anything from your diet, think about all of the other things that contribute to health. Ask yourself:
- Do you smoke? then please consider quitting because cutting out hot dogs should not be your first priority.
- Are you a couch potato? then consider adding in some movement in your life because a body that has no physical activity will not be any healthier just from cutting out salami.
- Do you eat all brown foods? In other words, do you dislike fruits and vegetables and so never eat them? Then omitting the bacon from your burger may not help much in your efforts to be healthy and avoid cancer. You need those antioxidants from foods with color.
- Do you hate your job? Are you stressed out everyday? Unhappy in your relationship or life in general? Then never having another ham sandwich in your life is not going to help.
My point is that you need to look at your entire lifestyle, your life in general before you think that making one dramatic change is going to matter. Think about your health, both mental and physical. No, you should not have hot dogs or bacon every day. But having bacon on a Sunday morning is not going to matter if you are otherwise doing all the other healthy things you need to be doing to feel good. Having a great bacon cheeseburger when you go out to eat at your favorite sports bar once in awhile will probably not cause colon cancer. Having salami for a week straight when you go to Italy for your dream vacation also will never affect your health long-term. But if you are someone who eats processed meats (think bologna, salami) every day, never eat fruits or vegetables, is stressed out, a couch potato, and smokes, then maybe just trying to change some of those unhealthy habits would be a good idea. Never eating another hot dog is not the answer.