I've seen many mentions of bacon and how "paleo" it is, so I'd like to ask how the eating of meat cured with nitrites or other processed meats is considered healthy?
From a brief survey at Pubmed:
Nitrates inhibit iodine uptake in the thyroid (promote hypothyroidosis?) and increase the risk of thyroid cancer in males (2011, large prospective study). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20824705
Association between cured meat consumption during pregnancy and risk of childhood brain tumors (2004, meta-analysis). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14739572
Association between nitrosamine and risk of gastric cancer (2006, systematic review). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16865769
Association between nitrite intake and ovarian cancer - 30% increase in highest consumers (2012, large prospective study) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21934624
However, it appears that co-consumption with vitamin C reduces the carcinogenicity of compounds that react with nitrite (2012, review). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22202020
These results, for me, are troubling. There is no way one could responsibly promote the consumption of a food with evidence of carcinogenic potential in a health-based context. Clearly, the benefits of meat preservation using chemical hazardous to health belong to an age where refrigeration did not exist. Today, there is no benefit that can compensate for the carcinogenic potential in such foods.
Oh stop whining. Seriously if bacon makes you wet yourself don't eat it. It is that simple. I like my life better with bacon, it is tasty and I have 0 evidence that it will hurt me.
Burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Bacon=bad? Prove it.
This is what we call a "forbidden" question. It is akin to asking why we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway, we are not meant to know the answer, only that it just "IS".
People ask: Why doesn't everyone follow a Paleo diet?? The answer is in this thread. We look like a bunch of nutcases as we argue about bacon!
The risk from nitrates/nitrites is low, and overblown. Aside from observational epidemiological studies, I've seen no support for nitrates in food causing cancer. See: http://paleohacks.com/questions/139951/do-nitrosamines-produced-in-food-actually-cause-cancer
I rather eat unprocessed meats, so you can have my bacon :) So bring on lamb heart, kidneys, and livers for me rather than bacon.
Ok, One more time.
PALEO IS NOT JUST EAT WHAT CAVEMEN ATE
Paleo is a belief that we evolved to eat certain types of foods. We have continued to evolve even after the "agricultural revolution". The idea is to eat foods that are healthy for YOU.
Also, man has been curing meat with smoke and/or salt for a very long time, it is certainly part of how we have evolved to eat.
The echo chamber effect seems to have manifested around this topic as many have risen to defend the consumption of meat processed with nitrite/nitrate. The defence seems to centre on personal experience (the "awesomeness" of bacon), or the experience of others (i.e. blog articles where arbitrary causality is established to support a view with no scientific referencing).
Given the available published research of the highest evidentiary scale (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) that indicate an association between nitrite/nitrate consumption from processed meats and an increase in cancer risk (references), this is surprising.
In order to stimulate a more rational discussion one could consider this issue from a different perspective by posing the following questions:
would you advocate that your significant other, or, your child consume meats preserved using this method?
would you advocate that a person who has been diagnosed with cancer consume meats preserved using this method?
Undoubtedly, there are genetic polymorphisms that enable some people to have an increased ability to metabolize toxins and resist oncogenesis. This is likely the reason why the degree of association between cancer risk and nitrite/nitrate consumption from processed meat is not as high as that of cigarette smoking and lung cancer, for example. However, as with cigarette smoking, there are a small number of individuals that live to well over 100 years despite being habitual smokers - and this is the argument that big tobacco used to maintain ignorance for as long as they could manage.
Bacon is Paleo because it comes from a dead pig. And because it's awesome.
Where is your evidence that nitrates are unhealthy? I thought that was all bunkum:
Nitrates had better be healthy, cos I'm glugging down the beetroot juice trying to increase mine right now: http://paleohacks.com/questions/151153/juicing-with-beetroot-is-a-5k-pb-worth-the-increased-cancer-risk
You are talking about poison bait traps for feral pigs, which are sensitive to nitrates. They are targeting 135mg/kg for the traps. That's a hell of a lot of nitrate, but one point is that they don't want other animals to die from it. Some of the pigs survived anyway...
"...in the United States, the concentration of nitrates and nitrites [in cured meats] is generally limited to 200 ppm or lower." - wiki. Okay, yet again "The dose makes the poison." - Paracelsus.
You have presented NO EVIDENCE that the levels of nitrates in bacon are problematic to humans. And, as an aside, there are more nitrites and nitrates in vegetables (beets, celery) than in bacon. And if you really are concerned, then go get the nitrite/nitrate free bacon at Trader Joe's (just watch out for the beet/celery juice that it is cured with). And don't eat their salmonella filled peanut butter snacks.
To actually answer your question, bacon is not truly paleo. No processed meats are. But neither is butter, ghee, coconut oil, coconut flour, modern fruit, red wine, coffee, dark chocolate, etc. etc... I keep waiting for Trader Joe's to carry wooly mammoth, but I digress. There is no good reason to avoid bacon apart from excess omega-6 levels.
Thank you Chris Kresser for clearing this up once and for all!
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