Do you love bacon? Well, that’s like asking if your heart’s beating. Of course you do! Who doesn’t?
But is there a darker side to your favorite pork treat? Is bacon killing you?
That’s the latest health scandal to go viral. Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media kingdom is buzzing with “shocking news” that bacon has been declared too dangerous for human consumption.
Is Bacon Giving You Cancer?
Sources on the Internet are causing a stir, saying that the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is cautioning consumers to avoid all processed meats (including bacon) due to clinical studies linking these foods to deadly cancers.
The WCRF, according to the web, is saying no one should ever eat bacon again ever.
Except the WCRF has made no such recommendation.
In an official statement released today on their website, the WCRF clarified that they had nothing to do with the “bacon will give you cancer” trend we’re seeing on our Twitter feeds.
The statement called the viral story “unhelpful” and “scaremongering.”
Health Risk Scaremongering
This anti-bacon propaganda seems to trace back to a blog run by Adam McLeod, a self-proclaimed “dreamhealer” advocating alternative medicine and healing, and a website called the Institute for Natural Healing.
Both of these websites refer to real health organizations and research studies, but they’re grossly exaggerating the facts. One statistic, a reference to “7000” recent studies, couldn’t be verified in the attributed footnote.
As the WCRF stated:
We are aware of a story circulating social media and blog sites claiming to represent World Cancer Research Fund International’s position on processed meat. We had no involvement in the production of this article.
Of course, the WCRF certainly isn’t advocating bacon as a healthy superfood. According to their estimates, the UK would see 4000 fewer cases of bowel cancer if people consumed less than 70g (approximately 3 rashers) of bacon per week.
The WCRF recommends avoiding processed meats like bacon, but not cutting these foods out entirely. The statement continued:
World Cancer Research Fund International recommends avoiding processed meat. This is the conclusion of an independent panel of leading scientists who, following the biggest review of international research ever undertaken, judged the evidence that processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer to be convincing. This review was done in 2007 and was subsequently confirmed in 2011.
There is a continual, growing body of scientific evidence that highlights the health risks of eating processed meat … This is why we recommend people avoid it. The articles talking about processed meat being ‘too dangerous for human consumption’ are unhelpful and scaremongering. We would say that if people can’t cut out processed meat completely they should cut down. WCRF International advocates a sensible, healthy, balanced diet.
The American Institute for Cancer Research, meanwhile, encourages consumers to think of processed meats as “something you save for special occasions — maybe a modest serving of ham at Christmas or a hot dog at a ball game.”
That doesn’t sound “too dangerous for human consumption.”
The Bottom Line
Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. In the high speed world of social media, many people share dramatic stories without pausing first to consider the facts. A bogus viral story might seem harmless enough, but sharing without thinking is part of the mindset that’s often exploited by scammers.
Plus, fear-mongering can cause undue stress — that’s been linked to health problems, too.
So remember to think before you retweet and if you see Processed Meat Too Dangerous For Human Consumption pop up in your news feed, please point out that the “facts” aren’t what they seem and share this blog post with your friends.
What Do You Think?
Is your social media buzzing with evil bacon stories? What are your favorite tall tales from the Internet?
We’d love to hear from you. If we get enough crazy stories in the comments, we might share the best ones in an upcoming feature!