Pancreatic Cancer, Processed Meat, and a Load of Bologna

I’m starting to wonder if the editors of medical journals schedule a yearly Meat Causes Cancer! issue …something like their own equivalent of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Our cover model this year is pancreatic cancer, folks — and as you can see, she’s a hot little topic!  We don’t want to start any rumors, but we have it on good authority she’s often seen in the company of some beefy hunks.

The hot little topic made a splash in the media last week, with headlines and opening paragraphs like these:

Bacon eaters warned of cancer risk

Eating two rashers of bacon or one sausage a day can increase the risk of a deadly form of cancer by almost a fifth, according to a new study.  New research by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has found that eating 50g of processed meat a day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 19%.

Processed Meat Could Raise Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Some possible bad news for all the bacon lovers out there.

A new review in the British Journal of Cancer suggests a link between processed meats — like bacon and sausages — and an increased pancreatic cancer risk. In particular, eating an extra 50 grams a day of processed meat — or about a sausage — is enough to raise pancreatic cancer risk by 19 percent, BBC News reported, while an extra 100 grams of processed meat a day could raise the cancer risk by 38 percent.

“The authors of this study have suggested that one of the reasons could be that some of the chemicals that are used to preserve processed meat are turned in our bodies into some really harmful chemicals which can affect our DNA and increase the chance of cancer,” Jessica Harris, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, told Sky News.

Holy jumpin’ jiminy!  A 19% increase in risk – that’s almost a fifth!  Better drop that bacon right now, Mister.  You don’t want to mutate your DNA and roll the dice with a 19% increase in the odds you’ll die of pancreatic cancer.

I tracked down the full study, and it was pretty much what I expected:  a meta-analysis of several other studies, all of them based on food-recall surveys.  So let’s put on our Science For Smart People hats (mine is cone-shaped; you can choose your own) and ask some critical-thinking questions:

Q: Was this an observational study or a clinical study?

A:  It was a meta-analysis of 11 observational studies, the kind where the researchers pool the data and crunch the numbers.

Q:  Did the researchers control the variables?

A:  No, because they couldn’t.  They were dealing with data published by other researchers who may or may not have done a good job controlling their variables.  As the authors of the current study noted:

Our study has some limitations. First, as a meta-analysis of observational studies, we cannot rule out that individual studies may have failed to control for potential confounders, which may introduce bias in an unpredictable direction. All studies controlled for age and smoking, but only a few studies adjusted for other potential confounders such as body mass index and history of diabetes. Another limitation is that our findings were likely to be affected by imprecise measurement of red and processed meat consumption and potential confounders.

Let me put that into plain English:  Our findings are meaningless. The studies we analyzed were based on food-recall surveys that are notoriously inaccurate, and most of them didn’t control for body mass index or diabetes, which essentially means they didn’t control for intake of sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Okay, folks, move along; nothing here to see.

What, you’re still here?  Then we may as well continue.

Q:  If A is linked to B, is it possible that they’re both caused by C?

A:  Yes, of course it’s possible.  As the researchers noted above, “All studies controlled for age and smoking, but only a few studies adjusted for other potential confounders.”  Since processed meats are often served with a big wallop of refined carbohydrates – pizza, burritos, deli sandwiches, etc. – it’s entirely possible that people who consume more processed meats have higher rates of pancreatic cancer (if that’s even the case) because they also consume more white flour.

Q:  If A is linked to B, do we see that connection consistently, or are there glaring exceptions?

A:  We can answer that question by looking at the charts from the full study.  This one shows the change in the relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer from consuming an additional 120 grams of red meat per day:

A relative risk of 1.0 is neutral – no change in risk.  Below 1.0 means lower relative risk and above 1.0 means higher relative risk.  The horizontal bars represent the range of values that fell within the “confidence interval,” the black squares represent the average relative risk for each study, and the white diamond in the last row represents the overall average obtained by pooling data from all the studies.

The first thing that jumped out at me is that in four of the 13 studies analyzed, the relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer was lower for the people who (supposedly) eat a lot of red meat.  I wouldn’t call that a consistent result.  If some studies show higher risk and some studies show lower risk, I’d conclude that we’re looking at the wrong variables.

But through the magic of statistical analysis, the researchers pooled the results (from studies that often failed to control the variables) and declared that consuming 120 grams of red meat per day raises your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 13%.

Now here’s the change in relative risk from consuming an additional 50 grams of processed meat per day:

Nine studies, and in three of them the relative risk of developing pancreatic cancer was lower for people who consumed more processed meat.  Once again, that’s hardly a consistent result, but the researchers pooled the data in order to declare that processed meat raises your risk of pancreatic cancer by 19% — which leads to our final question.

Q:  What was the actual difference?

A:  Almost nothing.  That’s the short answer.  Now for the longer answer:

Scientists like to cite relative risk instead of absolute risk because relative risk sounds far more impressive.  Suppose that when I lived in sunny California, my odds of being struck by lightning were 1 in a million.  But now that I live in Tennessee, suppose the odds are 1.5 in a million.  That’s a 50% increase in relative risk … but a meaningless increase in absolute risk.  The actual difference — the change in absolute risk —  is 0.5 in a million.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the age-adjusted annual incidence rate of pancreatic cancer is 13.6 per 100,00 men and 10.3 per 100,00 women.  We’ll split the difference and call it 12.15 per 100,000 people.  Expressed as a percentage, here are the odds that you’ll be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year:

0.0122%

Just barely over one-hundredth of one percent.  Now … let’s set aside the fact that this meta-analysis was 1) based on observational studies that 2) used unreliable food-recall surveys and 3) produced inconsistent results.  Suppose we choose to believe that processed meat really and truly causes pancreatic cancer at the increased rate found by pooling all that data, but we keep on eating our bacon anyway.  Here are the odds, expressed as a percentage, that we bacon-eaters will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year:

0.0145%

And here’s the actual difference between those two numbers:

0.0023%

Well, maybe you’d prefer to deal with lifetime odds instead of annual odds.  Okay, fine.  According the National Cancer Institute, the lifetime odds of developing pancreatic cancer in the U.S. are 1.45%.  If eating 50 grams per day of bacon or other processed meat really and truly (and all by itself) raised the rate by 19%, your lifetime odds would be 1.70%.

Here’s the actual difference between those two numbers:

0.25%

Enjoy your bacon.


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165 thoughts on “Pancreatic Cancer, Processed Meat, and a Load of Bologna

  1. Walter B

    RE: Colin Campbell reference above

    “C. Denise’s failure to note the broader implications of choosing the right dietary lifestyle.”

    The other considerations are different arguments, best addressed after the optimal human diet question is settled. We seven billion of us, many perhaps most will have to eat grain and perhaps even soy.

    My calculation show that the size of the population will be adjusted, an I think it we will choose the hard ways. 🙁

    And here rebuttal would not, of course, be accepted for publication *in its original form”, of course. These things have to be properly obfuscated for publication and certainly the style is inappropriate for peer review journals. Confusing form with substance is a classical mistake. See “Uncleftish Beholding” by Poul Anderson.

  2. Donna

    Good debunking job. But I remain concerned about Ajit Varki’s research (U.C. San Diego) on Neu5gc. His work strongly suggests that this sialic acid–present endogenously in all mammals except humans–causes inflammation and possibly cancer by provoking an immune system response. According to Varki’s research, we can absorb Neu5gc into our tissues by eating red meat (and to a lesser extent dairy), and our bodies react to it as a foreign substance. I don’t think this research should be dismissed as vegan propaganda. I sure wish someone in the low-carb/paleo community would take a serious look at it.

    I look at it this way: suppose processed meat really and truly produces a tiny rise in cancer rates, but sugar and refined flour produce a much larger rise in cancer rates. I’m far better off ditching the Wheaties for bacon.

  3. Angel

    I’m currently on a ham binge myself (I got a 20 lb Morrell bone-in ham as part of my Christmas bonus at work) but my true love will always be bacon.

    Thank you for your analysis, and for strengthening my confirmation bias in favor of bacon and processed meats. 🙂

  4. john

    http://oatao.univ-toulouse.fr/93/3/corpet_93.pdf

    …Here is a study where colon carcinogenesis was lowest in bacon group in rats. There are a few interesting observations in it: bacon group* was at the lower end of bodyweight despite eating most (by weight but perhaps calories too); bacon group has lowest visceral fat and shortest colon length.

    The proposed explanation is that the bacon group drank more water, because of the salt, and that had a protective effect, but I think that’s lame. In non-salt-sensitive animals, salt seems to have a metabolism stimulating effect, increasing thyroid hormones and lowering stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, etc). Also, despite popular concern over nitrates and nitrites, the data is inconsistent, and it’s possible that that was protective. Also, I believe bacon has a better amino acid profile than those other meats, having a bit lower methionine and tryptophan.

    *I’m referring to the “high meat” bacon group.

    Nothing like a little ad-hoc hypothesis to save another hypothesis that isn’t holding up to the data.

  5. Janelle

    “I suggest that those people who are so hostile to this message take another look at their reasoning. There is far more to this story than the interpretation of the scientific data alone. There are major issues of health care and health care costs, there are serious environmental issues that have not been adequately communicated to the public, and there are political, social and ethical issues that must be considered.”

    Translation: “Because I’m a prissy little vegan with control issues, and I say so!” (stamps tiny foot)

    LOL.

  6. Firebird

    Do they charge extra for those replacements? I’m reminded of the old Burger King commercials where someone asks the girl at the counter of a competitor to “hold the pickles” and the girl goes into slow motion. It throws them off.

    One of the best places I’ve ever eaten was a place in the Carolinas called the Lizard’s Thicket. The meals were one price. The menu was on the wall and you selected one item from the meats, two veggies, drink and dessert. Great way to order!

  7. johnny

    Unfortunately, most people have difficulty grasping the significance of numbers when presented as percentages.

    More clear to me would be to represent the lifetime occurrence of developing pancreatic cancer in the U.S. are 145 persons of every 10,000 individuals. If eating 50 grams per day of bacon or other processed meat really and truly (and all by itself) raised the rate by 19%, your lifetime occurrence would be 170 persons of every 10,000 individuals, a difference 25 persons IN 10,000!

    That’s why the headlines and article leads cite the relative risk. Tiny increases in risk aren’t interesting.

  8. johnny

    Continued from above…25 persons IN 10,000 is like filling a jar with 400 beans, 1 white and 399 black and you pick a bean from the jar blindfolded.

  9. Mike

    @cancerclasses
    Thanks,for being one of the few who,are informed on the subject of nitrates.In at least on study,rats got cancer when fed nitrates,however,humans would have to eat 30000 pounds of hot dogs,every day for 30 years to get the equivalent to the amount fed to those rats.Due to my higher fat low carb,and sugar free diet,I stay full longer,and don’t have to eat quite that many hot dogs anymore.P.S. I had to finish my pile of bacon,and wash my hands before I could post.

  10. johnny

    To me Campbell’s statement above “I suggest that those people…” clearly indicates he is promoting an agenda disguised as “healthy eating.”

    Bingo.

  11. Jennifer Snow

    @cancerclasses & Mike: I’ve heard some anecdotal stories from people about relatives who have severe or chronic reactions to preservatives. Granted, not all preservatives are nitrates. It’s *conceivably* possible that *some* people may be sensitive to nitrates. Some people have weird sensitivities to all kinds of stuff, which is what makes doing an elimination diet for some months beneficial–you can find out exactly what causes YOU issues, at least in the short-term, and hopefully optimize your diet for your particular sensitivities.

  12. Jennifer Snow

    Also, keep in mind that most bacon/ham contains SUGAR and very often HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. I’ve found that I’m so sensitive to both that I generally avoid bacon/sausage/ham as part of my new diet.

    Always check the label.

  13. Srdjan Ostric

    Sometimes it’s nice to have someone totally outside science look at a study and point out its errors. Often, people within science look too closely and fail to see the big picture. Now, if I could only tell jokes…

    Of course you can tell jokes. The question is: can you tell them well?

  14. Bruce

    Whether to eat bacon or salami or any of the others reminds me of the Denis Leary line in his stand up about smoking. When told that it would take 5 years off of his life, he said “But, those are the last 5 years, and those are crappy anyway.”

    I believe he also explained how he tells vegetarians who criticize his meat-eating that he only eats cows who smoked.

  15. Hilary Kyro

    Thank you so much, Tom and cancerclasses, for the yummy news about bacon and nitrates. As to the “sustainability” of lo-carbing on a crowded planet; I find that I need a lot less of “everything that will soon be garbage or sewage” since becoming a Fathead.I just watched a marathon of Hoarders…20 tons of carbs were in evidence everywhere we find toxic clutter; bleeding tins of pasta, juice cartons, pizza boxes, cookies, chips, crackers, kibbles and tragic attempts at including fruits and veg in the rotten diet.
    50-gram bacon-eaters will not be sustaining Big Gulp industries that develop grossly disabled people who poo in Target bags full of Glade Scents. Lard-lovers; we’re cool with Mother Nature.

    We’ve also noticed that those super-coupon shoppers always seem to load up on boxes and boxes of carbs. Nothing like a cheap case of diabetes.

  16. Craig

    Also, speaking of the pancreas, since Paula Dean’s is apparently wearing out I’ve seen multiple facebook comments over the past two days making snide remarks about all the butter she cooked with. My fingers are getting cramped from typing, “Butter has no effect on blood sugar, therefore it has no effect on insulin. Her insulin problems came from the piles of flour, sugar, potatoes and corn meal she uses in every recipe.”

    Meanwhile I checked the Wikipedia entry on the medication that she is now taking and endorsing. It basically forces the pancreas to produce more insulin than it is naturally capable of. So she’s going to keep eating lots of carbs while giving her already over-stressed pancreas a chemical kick in the pants, and she is going to recommend that others do the same thing.

    I checked some of her recipes. Lots of sugar and flour.

  17. Janelle

    “I suggest that those people who are so hostile to this message take another look at their reasoning. There is far more to this story than the interpretation of the scientific data alone. There are major issues of health care and health care costs, there are serious environmental issues that have not been adequately communicated to the public, and there are political, social and ethical issues that must be considered.”

    Translation: “Because I’m a prissy little vegan with control issues, and I say so!” (stamps tiny foot)

    LOL.

  18. bigmyc

    Tom, is this link as bold faced an attempt at product promotion as I think it might be?

    http://www.caloriecounters.com/feature/calories-stupid.php

    I’d like to believe that slim living is as simple as the equation that Dunkle purports but a number of factors on that page, the DietPower plug in particular, makes it’s authenticity difficult to digest.

    You might wish to pay particular attention to the final paragraph. Oh, I wish a debate panel of nutrition pundits could be assembled and televised..much like a presidential election debate. At the very least, it would make the exhaustively incongruent amount of researched information much more concise.

    I think you nailed it. A product-promo piece written by yet another health writer who doesn’t understand what the laws of physics say and don’t say about losing weight.

  19. Hilary Kyro

    Thank you so much, Tom and cancerclasses, for the yummy news about bacon and nitrates. As to the “sustainability” of lo-carbing on a crowded planet; I find that I need a lot less of “everything that will soon be garbage or sewage” since becoming a Fathead.I just watched a marathon of Hoarders…20 tons of carbs were in evidence everywhere we find toxic clutter; bleeding tins of pasta, juice cartons, pizza boxes, cookies, chips, crackers, kibbles and tragic attempts at including fruits and veg in the rotten diet.
    50-gram bacon-eaters will not be sustaining Big Gulp industries that develop grossly disabled people who poo in Target bags full of Glade Scents. Lard-lovers; we’re cool with Mother Nature.

    We’ve also noticed that those super-coupon shoppers always seem to load up on boxes and boxes of carbs. Nothing like a cheap case of diabetes.

  20. Craig

    Also, speaking of the pancreas, since Paula Dean’s is apparently wearing out I’ve seen multiple facebook comments over the past two days making snide remarks about all the butter she cooked with. My fingers are getting cramped from typing, “Butter has no effect on blood sugar, therefore it has no effect on insulin. Her insulin problems came from the piles of flour, sugar, potatoes and corn meal she uses in every recipe.”

    Meanwhile I checked the Wikipedia entry on the medication that she is now taking and endorsing. It basically forces the pancreas to produce more insulin than it is naturally capable of. So she’s going to keep eating lots of carbs while giving her already over-stressed pancreas a chemical kick in the pants, and she is going to recommend that others do the same thing.

    I checked some of her recipes. Lots of sugar and flour.

  21. tro

    Aren’t relative risks fun. It’s like buying two lottery tickets instead of one increases your change of winning by 100%. 20% risk increase would equal to buying 6 lottery tickets instead of 5.

    Exactly. You can buy 20 tickets and your odds are still close to zero.

  22. bigmyc

    Tom, is this link as bold faced an attempt at product promotion as I think it might be?

    http://www.caloriecounters.com/feature/calories-stupid.php

    I’d like to believe that slim living is as simple as the equation that Dunkle purports but a number of factors on that page, the DietPower plug in particular, makes it’s authenticity difficult to digest.

    You might wish to pay particular attention to the final paragraph. Oh, I wish a debate panel of nutrition pundits could be assembled and televised..much like a presidential election debate. At the very least, it would make the exhaustively incongruent amount of researched information much more concise.

    I think you nailed it. A product-promo piece written by yet another health writer who doesn’t understand what the laws of physics say and don’t say about losing weight.

  23. BobG

    THANK YOU for making that important distinction between relative risk and absolute risk – estimating risk is something that almost everybody is horrible at, which is why I hate to see people who actually KNOW the math present their findings deceptively.

    RE: Paula Deen and her pancreas – I’ve watched her son’s terrible show, _Not My Mama’s Meals_. That’s a half hour I’ll never get back – but per the Dennis Leary quote above, I’ll imagine it being taken off the end, when I’m sick & miserable 🙂

    The hook of the show is that he makes his mama’s recipes “healthy,” by (of course) cutting out fat and reducing the ratio of meat to non-meat. The timing of the show’s launch is offensive enough, but the fact that “less fat and fewer calories” is STILL the unquestioned way to make a meal “healthier” is mind-boggling.

    Oh, and he also apparently makes things “healthier” by swapping in whole-wheat flour for some of the white flour, which is undeniably an improvement, in exactly the same way that swapping in a more-diluted cyanide solution would be.

    It’ll be fascinating if he ends up with diabetes as well and has to explain that result. (Not that I’m wishing that fate on him.)

  24. tro

    Aren’t relative risks fun. It’s like buying two lottery tickets instead of one increases your change of winning by 100%. 20% risk increase would equal to buying 6 lottery tickets instead of 5.

    Exactly. You can buy 20 tickets and your odds are still close to zero.

  25. BobG

    THANK YOU for making that important distinction between relative risk and absolute risk – estimating risk is something that almost everybody is horrible at, which is why I hate to see people who actually KNOW the math present their findings deceptively.

    RE: Paula Deen and her pancreas – I’ve watched her son’s terrible show, _Not My Mama’s Meals_. That’s a half hour I’ll never get back – but per the Dennis Leary quote above, I’ll imagine it being taken off the end, when I’m sick & miserable 🙂

    The hook of the show is that he makes his mama’s recipes “healthy,” by (of course) cutting out fat and reducing the ratio of meat to non-meat. The timing of the show’s launch is offensive enough, but the fact that “less fat and fewer calories” is STILL the unquestioned way to make a meal “healthier” is mind-boggling.

    Oh, and he also apparently makes things “healthier” by swapping in whole-wheat flour for some of the white flour, which is undeniably an improvement, in exactly the same way that swapping in a more-diluted cyanide solution would be.

    It’ll be fascinating if he ends up with diabetes as well and has to explain that result. (Not that I’m wishing that fate on him.)

  26. Sarah

    My hat is a big foam cheese hat. As someone who worked in the news industry, I can tell you that most journalists are sleep-deprived and/or hung over and just trying to find something to say so they can go home. So many people have been laid off in that industry that everyone remaining has to do the job of two people, and it’s nearly impossible to do it well.

    If you wear a cheese hat, then you have my sympathies for the Packers-Giants game.

  27. Firebird

    RE: Paula Deen

    A local newscast interviewed a doctor about this. He proclaimed the evidence that bacon and eating sticks of butter caused obesity and diabetes is as clear as the blue velvet sky.

    Bang head on desk. Throw baseball through TV. Replace both.

    Bang. Bang. Bang.

  28. Melinda P

    Thanks for this post! I’m tired of people hating on bacon.

    Okay, so while we’re talking about processed meats: Is Spam okay? Most low-carbers poo-poo Spam cuz it’s so “highly processed”. Just wondering, because fried Spam tastes like bacon and sausage got together and had a love child. Really yummy stuff.

    I believe the fresher the meat, the better. Having said that, I don’t think Spam will hurt you.

  29. Sol y Sombra

    Haha, thanks again for this great post! I’ve shared it on Facebook 🙂

    Thanks for sharing it.

  30. gollum

    Did they control/scale for body weight or at least body height squared? See, Lumber Jill may be filled after a generous 100 g serving, but I do require about a pound, eh, make that two pounds.

    What about overall mortality? R Cancer goes up when you eliminate heart disease, etc.

    Nitrate scare? In Europe, we have nitrate scare with veggies that are supposedly grown on too much fertilizer/manure. Common preservative for sausage is nitrite (the other is benzoic acid). It probably saves more lives than it takes because dysenteria isn’t exactly funny.

    What is this, pancreatic cancer? Given that this is a rare disease in the first place, it wouldn’t be a prime spot for applying numbers games in the first place. Also, the first things toying around with the pancreas that would come into mind, given our medical knowledge, would be 1) Carbs 2) Carbs 3) Insulin levels 4) Carbs 5) Alcohol 6) Auto-immune diseases. Nitrites would maybe act on the bowel lining, but they are still desperately trying to find a catchy RR to scare us with on that one.

    Nope, most of the studies didn’t control for BMI.

  31. AndreaLynnette

    The first thing I thought when I read this post was “observational! No causation detection possible! Danger! Danger!” The second thing I noticed was that the spread on the data in the graphs is so wide that it would be irresponsible to attempt to make some kind of simple pronouncement against anything. The third thing was that no one seems to care (except all you fine people, of course).

    What kills me about this, and about things like the pronouncements against Paula Deen, is that all this bad science, bad research, and bad journalism is KILLING people! People do the diets, they don’t work, so they get the surgery and THAT doesn’t work. So, of course, they have to be cheating! It can’t possibly be that the theory is wrong! I work with a man who is still over 100lbs heavier than he should be despite gastric bypass surgery and a lifetime of dieting. The surgery shortened his life and gave him the terribly unfortunate (and rarely talked about) side effect of constant and nauseous flatulence.
    We were having breakfast the other day and we were talking about Paula Deen when my friend said he was shocked that Deen hadn’t had multiple heart attacks because of all that awful saturated fat. I tried to explain to him that there is NO connection between the two, and he said “that’s not what my doctors think” and didn’t want to discuss it further.

    We have so much work to do.

    Yup, miles to go before we sleep.

  32. Becky

    It’s crap like this that makes me ignore any advice I hear based on new reasearch from any source. From here on out, I’m basing my actions on an unreliable anecdotal study of one: me. And my baggy pants, muscle tone, increased energy and immune system are all telling me to fry up another few strips of bacon to go with my eggs and fruit 🙂

  33. Becky

    PS, we have one vegetarian in the office and it took her all summer to be strong enough to push her lawn mower. Sure she’s small but her skin is pallid, she has HUGE circles under her eyes (at 28) and she looks like an extra for Walking Dead. Thanks but no thanks!

    I look back on the fact that I became a vegetarian while dating a vegetarian who was overweight, and I wonder what the @#$% I was thinking.

  34. Davida

    This was the article on the local paper’s site about Paula Deen (although it is from the AP):

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_PAULA_DEEN_DIABETES?SITE=VANOV&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    The writer goes on and on about the amount of fat in her recipes, then mentions the definition of diabetes:

    “Roughly 23 million Americans are believed to have the most common Type 2 diabetes; patients’ bodies either do not produce enough insulin or do not use it efficiently, allowing excess sugar, or glucose, to accumulate in the blood.”

    Head. Bang.

    On. Desk.

  35. The Older Brother

    @Melinda:

    From the official Hormel SPAM page:

    Ingredients: Pork with Ham, Salt, Water, Modified Potato Starch, Sugar, Sodium Nitrite.

    If I recall from one of those History Channel shows, the processing consists of cooking the meat after it’s been sealed in the cans.

    We picked some up several months ago after realizing I hadn’t had any for years. The Oldest Son now regularly fries it for breakfast after sprinkling some of his BBQ seasoning on it.

    Cheers!

    That’s not as bad as I would have guessed. It’s good with eggs, too … and inspired at least one Monty Python song.

  36. Sarah

    My hat is a big foam cheese hat. As someone who worked in the news industry, I can tell you that most journalists are sleep-deprived and/or hung over and just trying to find something to say so they can go home. So many people have been laid off in that industry that everyone remaining has to do the job of two people, and it’s nearly impossible to do it well.

    If you wear a cheese hat, then you have my sympathies for the Packers-Giants game.

  37. Firebird

    RE: Paula Deen

    A local newscast interviewed a doctor about this. He proclaimed the evidence that bacon and eating sticks of butter caused obesity and diabetes is as clear as the blue velvet sky.

    Bang head on desk. Throw baseball through TV. Replace both.

    Bang. Bang. Bang.

  38. Melinda P

    Thanks for this post! I’m tired of people hating on bacon.

    Okay, so while we’re talking about processed meats: Is Spam okay? Most low-carbers poo-poo Spam cuz it’s so “highly processed”. Just wondering, because fried Spam tastes like bacon and sausage got together and had a love child. Really yummy stuff.

    I believe the fresher the meat, the better. Having said that, I don’t think Spam will hurt you.

  39. Sol y Sombra

    Haha, thanks again for this great post! I’ve shared it on Facebook 🙂

    Thanks for sharing it.

  40. gollum

    Did they control/scale for body weight or at least body height squared? See, Lumber Jill may be filled after a generous 100 g serving, but I do require about a pound, eh, make that two pounds.

    What about overall mortality? R Cancer goes up when you eliminate heart disease, etc.

    Nitrate scare? In Europe, we have nitrate scare with veggies that are supposedly grown on too much fertilizer/manure. Common preservative for sausage is nitrite (the other is benzoic acid). It probably saves more lives than it takes because dysenteria isn’t exactly funny.

    What is this, pancreatic cancer? Given that this is a rare disease in the first place, it wouldn’t be a prime spot for applying numbers games in the first place. Also, the first things toying around with the pancreas that would come into mind, given our medical knowledge, would be 1) Carbs 2) Carbs 3) Insulin levels 4) Carbs 5) Alcohol 6) Auto-immune diseases. Nitrites would maybe act on the bowel lining, but they are still desperately trying to find a catchy RR to scare us with on that one.

    Nope, most of the studies didn’t control for BMI.

  41. Colin T.

    Thanks! I have been interested in making my own dried sausage, but since practically all I eat is meat, I was very worried about nitrates. I’m already buying bacon from Whole Foods that is supposedly cured without added nitrates — unnecessary, I suppose, but since I eat 3-6oz of it every day, it helped my peace of mind at the time. I’ll be glad to start buying liver sausage more readily, too.

  42. AndreaLynnette

    The first thing I thought when I read this post was “observational! No causation detection possible! Danger! Danger!” The second thing I noticed was that the spread on the data in the graphs is so wide that it would be irresponsible to attempt to make some kind of simple pronouncement against anything. The third thing was that no one seems to care (except all you fine people, of course).

    What kills me about this, and about things like the pronouncements against Paula Deen, is that all this bad science, bad research, and bad journalism is KILLING people! People do the diets, they don’t work, so they get the surgery and THAT doesn’t work. So, of course, they have to be cheating! It can’t possibly be that the theory is wrong! I work with a man who is still over 100lbs heavier than he should be despite gastric bypass surgery and a lifetime of dieting. The surgery shortened his life and gave him the terribly unfortunate (and rarely talked about) side effect of constant and nauseous flatulence.
    We were having breakfast the other day and we were talking about Paula Deen when my friend said he was shocked that Deen hadn’t had multiple heart attacks because of all that awful saturated fat. I tried to explain to him that there is NO connection between the two, and he said “that’s not what my doctors think” and didn’t want to discuss it further.

    We have so much work to do.

    Yup, miles to go before we sleep.

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