Does bacon cause cancer? 5 things you need to do to eat bacon healthily

In our country, bacon is one of the best dishes with unique flavor. Many people think that bacon has low moisture content and no shelf life, and the longer it is kept, the better it tastes. In fact, this is not true, bacon also has the best storage period.

The moisture content of bacon is generally 25% or even lower. The low moisture content limits the growth of many microorganisms, so the storage time is longer. People often hang the prepared bacon on beams or brackets to dry and preserve it. Such an exposed preservation method not only has the problem of microbial contamination, but also is easily torn by insects and rodents such as rats. Not only is it easy to damage the appearance, but also easy to spread bacteria.

Does bacon cause cancer? 5 things you need to do to eat bacon healthily

Long-term storage of bacon, acid value and peroxide value will gradually increase, excessive oxidation of fat to produce sour taste, color deterioration, lower quality, reduced food value, may also contain pathogenic bacteria pathogenic to humans, produce toxins, the general means of sterilization is difficult to remove.

In addition, bacon products will contain many mycotoxins, which are generally present on the surface or shallow layer of bacon, but certain mycotoxins with low molecular mass or lipophilic may spread to the interior of bacon, and the higher the fat content and the longer the storage time, the more serious the spread.

In general, the shelf life of bacon stored at room temperature is 6 to 10 months, and it is best to consume it within 4 months, or up to 8 to 12 months if stored in the refrigerator at low temperature.

However, the environmental conditions of homemade bacon are not well controlled, and if the production process is improper, it may directly lead to bacterial growth. Clostridium botulinum can thrive in food without oxygen and low acidity, and produce deadly toxins, but it will not make the food significantly worse. If you like to eat bacon, it is recommended to buy bacon produced by regular manufacturers is safer, the shelf life is generally 6 months.

Does bacon cause cancer? 5 things you need to do to eat bacon healthily

Is it true that bacon causes cancer?

Bacon is a processed meat product that is often reported to be "carcinogenic", which is not "empty wind". The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization has long classified bacon, sausage, ham and other processed meat products as Class 1 carcinogens. In other words, there is sufficient evidence to show that eating these processed meat products can cause cancer in people.

There are many carcinogenic substances in bacon, such as nitrite, nitrosamines, benzo(a)pyrene, formaldehyde, etc.

It is not carcinogenic in itself, but it has a carcinogenic effect when it reacts with amines or amides in meat to form nitroso compounds - nitrosamines; nitrite will also generate nitrosamines in the environment of stomach acid after we eat it; after smoking bacon, the smoking process will make bacon contain benzo(a)pyrene, which is classified as a strong carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer; smoking will also make a layer of formaldehyde attached to the surface of bacon, which is also a kind of carcinogen.

Does bacon cause cancer? 5 things you need to do to eat bacon healthily

However, although bacon is classified as a carcinogen, it does not mean that eating it can cause cancer. If you like to eat bacon, then just control the amount you eat and eat it occasionally.

In addition, the salt content of bacon is not low, basically above 6 %. This means that even 50 grams of bacon (about as much as two fingers) can result in the intake of 3 grams of salt.

The Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents recommends that the daily salt intake of each person in China should not exceed 5 grams, which is about the amount of less than a beer bottle cap (with a gel pad inside). If you eat 50 grams of bacon, you can consume 3 grams of salt, and if you eat other dishes, it is easy to exceed the salt intake throughout the day. A chronically high salt diet not only increases the risk of high blood pressure, but also increases the risk of stomach cancer.

How to eat bacon healthily?

Although often eat bacon is not good for health, but bacon is really too good for the "foodies", really hard to give up! Love to eat bacon do not have to quit, refer to the following recommendations to eat can be relatively healthy, reduce the harm of bacon on the body.

  1. Soak before cooking: The harmful substances of bacon mainly exist with the surface. Before consuming bacon, you need to scrape off the mold on the surface, then trim off some meat on the surface, and then soak it in water, which can reduce the amount of carcinogens and nitrites.
  2. Pay attention to the cooking method: bacon itself is high in oil and salt, should try to avoid frying, frying, frying way will not only make bacon more unhealthy, high temperature will also generate more nitrosamines. It is recommended to cook bacon more in the way of steaming and stewing, and if it is stewed bacon, it is best not to drink the soup.
  3. With fresh fruits and vegetables: The vitamin C, calcium mineral, chlorophyll and polyphenolic compounds in fruits and vegetables can inhibit the formation of nitrosamines or other carcinogens, reducing the risk of cancer.
  4. Use of spices: Natural spices not only enhance the flavor of dishes, they also contain antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids, which are useful for antioxidants, anti-bacteria and anti-cancer, such as garlic, cloves, cinnamon, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, black cumin, etc. In addition, some studies have shown that the addition of spices when curing bacon can reduce the generation of heterocyclic amines, which also have a preservative effect.
  5. Eat less: It is recommended to control between 40~75 grams each time, 50 grams is about the amount of 2 fingers. If you have high blood pressure, high blood fat, diabetes and other diseases, you should try not to eat.


Although bacon is delicious, it is a processed meat product, so for the sake of health, it is important to control the amount of consumption. Not only bacon, ham, bacon, salami also have to eat less oh!

Author | Qingxin Xue Member of Chinese Nutrition Society Registered Dietitian Health Manager Public Nutritionist

Review | Gao Chao Associate Researcher, Institute of Nutrition and Health, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention