Bacon-lovers around the world have been panicking over the latest carcinogen classification by the World Health Organization’s cancer research team: processed meats are now considered a group 1 carcinogen, in the same category as cigarettes, asbestos, and arsenic.Yikes. But does that mean that indulging in a salami sandwich or bacon and eggs every once in a while is as dangerous as a smoking habit? Not even close.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the WHO panel that came out with this information, a daily dosage of processed meats (that’s almost two ounces of bacon or sausage every day) will increase your colon cancer odds by 18 percent. The average person’s lifetime risk for colon cancer is 4.5 percent. Meanwhile, smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, a much larger risk, according to CDC statistics.
If you’re still nervous about the scary effects of nitrates, here are some other cancer risks in the same category as processed meats and cigarettes: exposure to sunlight radiation (aka going outside for prolonged periods of time), air pollution, salted fish, drinking alcohol, and exposure to soot (sorry, chimney sweeps).
It should also be noted, that seven of the 22 IARC panel members either voted against the measure, or abstained, an outcome that’s apparently incredibly rare in the world of carcinogen identification, according to The New York Times.