Death by sausage…

So, according to hysterical headlines this morning, we’re all doomed to death by sausage! Apparently, if we eat a sausage a day, it’ll increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20% – terrifying, no?

Well, actually, no. The base figure, assuming it’s accurate, is that 1 man in 20 will develop bowel cancer in his lifetime. Ramping that up by 20% means that a mere 1.2 men in 20 will get bowel cancer – hardly a terrifying statistic (unless you’re the fifth of a man who’s doomed!)

Anyway, this assumes that all sausages contain nitrates and phosphates, which are carcinogenic – they don’t (and my home-made ones certainly won’t!). Actually, make that can be carcinogenic, because just consuming nitrates won’t simply give you cancer, you have to be genetically pre-disposed first.

It goes without saying that this alarmist twaddle was featured in the Daily Mail – these are the same people who brought you the MMR scare, putting the health of an entire generation at risk for no reason at all. Do they actually have any bowel cancer statistics at all for people who eat sausages every day, like truckers and construction workers, which might actually mean something? Don’t be silly…

2 thoughts on “Death by sausage…

  1. Obviously the story is full of scare-mongering soundbites, but perhaps if they’d avoided banging on about bangers and bacon (ho ho) and extended the criticisms to other ‘processed’ foodstuffs too, it would have been fairer reporting; I don’t think many people would disagree that the more you process food the less healthy it’s likely to be?

  2. Hi Abi,

    All processed food is tarred with the same brush, but all processed food isn’t necessarily bad. Ketchup and canned beans are processed food, but even the Mail couldn’t say THEY were dangerous.

    This is all about the misrepresentation of statistics and then feeding a panic about it, just as they did with MMR. The risk represented in the stats, in this case, is tiny (and with MMR, not there at all).

    Pretty much everyone eats allegedly dangerous processed food, it’s impossible to avoid (unless you cook every single thing in your diet from scratch – and even then you’re damned if you put salt in it!), but unless you actually live on a diet of kippers, bacon and sausages, or anything else exclusively, it’s not going to do you any harm at all.

    I firmly believe in eating anything you like – but in moderation. Almost anything, even water, is bad for you in excess.

    Anyway, there’s no point in worrying about this week’s food scare – there’ll be another one along soon!

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