Sunday, 25 October 2015


There has been a lot of breathless excitement in the tabloid media this morning comparing bacon to tobacco or asbestos as far as cancer risk. (which is actually no surprise) I thought Id go straight to the World Health Organisation and read their report on cancer risk. Here's some excerpts from the section on colorectal cancer (the whole thing is LONG so I have pulled out relevant bits - the whole report I linked at the end):

"Colorectal cancer incidence rates are approximately ten-fold higher in developed than in developing countries, and it has been suggested that diet-related factors may account for up to 80% of the differences in rates between countries.The best established diet-related risk factor is overweight/obesity, and physical activity has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. These factors together, however, do not explain the large variation between populations in colorectal cancer rates.....

Studies have shown a strong association between per capita consumption of meat and colorectal cancer mortality but not with poultry or fish.... Overall, the evidence suggests that high consumption of preserved and red meat probably increases the risk for colorectal cancer.As with meat, international correlation studies show a strong association between per capita consumption of fat and colorectal cancer mortality ....

Many case--control studies have observed association between
the risk of colorectal cancer and high consumption of fruits and
vegetables and/or dietary fibre. On balance, the evidence that is currently available suggests that intake of fruits and vegetables probably reduces the risk for colorectal cancer....
Some prospective studies have suggested that a highintake of folate is associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer . Another promising hypothesis is that relatively high intakes of calcium may reduce the risk for colorectal cancer....

There is almost universal agreement that some aspects of the ‘‘westernized’ diet are a major determinant of risk; for instance, there is some evidence that risk is increased by high intakes of meat and fat, and that risk is decreased by high intakes of fruits and vegetables, dietary fibre, folate and calcium."

So based on this report we should eat more fruit and vegetables, more fibre, less fat, less meat and processed meat and if you do eat meat then focus on poultry and fish.  Treat your bacon as a treat food. Make sure we get enough folate (from green leafy vegetables) and calcium (from vegetables, fish, dairy or calcium fortified alternatives) and avoid heavily processed foods.
Now, there's a surprise!! ;)

Oh and one more recommendation: don't get your health advice from the tabloid media!

Lyndal at Lean Green and Healthy HQ
Full WHO report is here

Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendations on meat are here: