A couple years ago, several headlines circulated through the 24 hour news cycle about scientists confirming that bacon was as harmful as human health to smoking cigarettes.
This was based off of a decision made by the World Health Organization, to brand processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans,” deciding to list them in the ranks of other notoriously carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, arsenic, cigarettes, and alcohol.
Truthfully, the story is simplistic and it’s all based around a fallacy: an appeal to authority, the authority of the WHO.
Often, the WHO, CDC, and other government organizations have the ability to cause a media stir just based on what they say, not even necessarily what they report.
Continuing, the World Health Organization officially classified processed meats as carcinogenic in October 2015.
Somehow in this hierarchy, the decision managed to be made by something called the International Agency of Research into Cancer (IARC), based on a review done on 800 studies globally.
They say the report found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”
According to the IARC Report:
“Meat consists of multiple components, such as haem iron. Meat can also contain chemicals that form during meat processing or cooking.
For instance, carcinogenic chemicals that form during meat processing include N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Cooking of red meat or processed meat also produces heterocyclic aromatic amines as well as other chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are also found in other foods and in air pollution.
Some of these chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens, but despite this knowledge, it is not yet fully understood how cancer risk is increased by red meat or processed meat.”
What’s wrong with this picture? Sure processed meat does cause cancer, but are people really so simplistic and naive to think that they need an entity called the World Health Organization to warn them?
If you don’t know processed meat is bad for you and that it causes cancer, or that most of all food we can buy nowadays is insufficient to feed us or keep us from getting sick, you don’t know how the world works.
The WHO has no genuine intention of keeping people healthy, being some altruistic force to make sure people don’t get bowel cancer. It would be naive to think that’s why they exist.
Some articles go deep into the details of what percent likeliness people are to suffer from bowel cancer if they eat processed meat, but it’s hard to believe in the accuracy of these statistics when people vary so much in how they eat, and how they live.
At the root of this story, the WHO and health organizations are justifying their existence by issuing warnings about things like this. Not only that, but the WHO moves so slowly, if this was a priority to them in 2015, how could they be so late to the issue?
The WHO has a surface level, where they disclose to the public what they are researching and try to justify their existence with little warnings like this, and then they have a deeper depth of what they do and who they endorse, what research and products they promote, and all the rest.
Also, it’s not a good thing when government organizations start “officially” recognizing things. When the government starts “officially” recognizing the danger of tobacco, they start trying to make laws that do nothing but line the pockets of politicians with new taxes, and create annoying little additional hassles for people who will not give up smoking cigarettes either way.
Take Australia and New Zealand for example. They have a law that bans the sale of tobacco products that don’t feature a picture of lung cancer, or mouth cancer, in place of a brand or packaging.
In the US, you go get a pack of whatever your brand cigarette is. In Australia, every brand is “lung cancer brand,” and you don’t get to roll blunts with Swisher Sweets or any of those American cigarellos that can now triumphantly be found in every gas station in America.
We don’t want the government to start officially recognizing things as carcinogenic, and anybody who does need that is relying on the wrong people for information about the world.
People would be better off using common sense, firsthand experience, and other reliable and demonstrable, provable sources of information for which things are toxic rather than the World Health Organization. They don’t recognize a ton of other things that are harmful or carcinogenic, but they have no problem stating the obvious.