Everybody loves bacon. It’s not even just for breakfast anymore, we put bacon on literally everything.

For that reason, the world collectively gasped when the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and many other processed meats are likely to give you colorectal cancer. They labeled processed meats as group 1 carcinogens, right alongside cigarettes as the most carcinogenic stuff out there. Oh, crap.

So, why is everyone freaking out?


Photo by Christin Urso

The WHO brought together 22 scientists earlier in October to analyze over 800 different studies about approximately 16 different types of cancer. They were working to determine whether there is a statistical association between consuming processed meats and the incidence of any of these cancers.

To everyone’s dismay, the answer turned out to be “yes.” And the cancer in question, colorectal, is one of the most fatal forms of cancer in America, second only to lung cancer. Lung cancer is the reason your parents tell you to stay away from cigarettes.

Looks like bacon may be getting its own Surgeon General warning label.

To make matters even worse, unprocessed red meats, such as steak or hamburger meat, are now group 2A carcinogens. Although this isn’t as dangerous as group 1, it means “probably carcinogenic.” They found red meat to have a positive association with several types of cancer, including colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate.


Photo by Kelda Baljon

To get more specific, the report concluded that every 50 grams (or, in U.S. cooking terms, 1.8-oz.) portion of processed meat consumed per day increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Eighteen freakin’ percent.

So, what does this mean for the future of bacon consumption? Will we stop seeing Instagrams featuring sizzling, meaty goodness on burgers or in mac ‘n’ cheese? Well, we can’t be sure, but major changes are definitely ahead.

For now, we’re just wishing that we ate three pounds of bacon for brunch yesterday, back when it was still (kind of) okay to do so.