Bacon lovers were sizzling after the World Health Organization issued its recent warning that bacon, sausage and other processed meats may cause cancer.
But faster than you could say, “Do you want that maple-smoked or hickory-smoked?” the legions of bacon defenders were demanding equal time for a study that, they insist, challenges the WHO’s findings.
That study, published 18 months ago in the online journal PLOS Genetics, said that bacon isn’t bad for everyone.
In a (bacon-wrapped) nutshell, researchers at the University of Southern California concluded that processed meats in and of themselves could not be linked to cancer. It’s how the eater’s body reacts to the meats that matters, and that’s determined by a person’s DNA.
“Our results suggest that genetic variants may interact with diet and, in combination, affect colorectal cancer risk,” the study said.
Meaning, there are some people — the researchers estimate it’s about 57 percent of the population — who can eat all the bacon they want and not worry about it leading to cancer.
Before you rush off for a celebratory BLT, the study came with a caveat: The USC researchers tested 2.7 million genetic variations. There is no hand-dandy at-home bacon-compatability test that will tell you whether you’re one of the people for whom it’s safe to pig out on pork bellies.
Then again, that would make for a terrific booth at the State Fair. □