How does bacon cause cancer?


I get that it causes cancer because it has a variety of carcinogens, but how exactly do those carcinogens provoke cancer?

In: 25

It’s a processed meat product containing nitrites / nitrates (used in the curing process) which are carcinogens (known to cause cancer); it’s red meat (a probable carcinogen); and it’s chock full of sodium and sugar, which are also unhealthy for you at those levels.

Additionally, bacon is traditionally fried for crispiness and flavor, but this method produces carcinogenic compounds like acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Doesn’t mean it’s not delicious though. All of life is a calculated risk, and everyone is willing to accept some small risk of cancer for good food.

When exposed to intense heat, some of the preservatives in bacon (particularly sodium nitrate) become carcinogens such as nitrosamine.

Nitrosamine causes cancer in many ways but it basically damages your DNA and causes cell death which could lead to tumors.

Carcinogens can damage DNA through various (complex) mechanisms. One common way is by causing mutations or changes in the DNA sequence. This can happen directly by binding to the DNA molecule and causing chemical changes, or indirectly by generating reactive molecules that interact with DNA and cause modifications. These mutations can disrupt the normal functioning of genes that regulate cell growth and division, leading to the development of cancer. Additionally, some carcinogens can interfere with DNA repair processes, allowing mutations to accumulate over time and increasing the risk of cancer.

I’m going to ELI5 in a slightly more epistemological direction but it may help guide a lot of the questions from OP here. A carcinogen is something that, by definition, causes cancer. We don’t have the “mechanisms” for a ton of carcinogens. We just know that they’re probably things that cause cancer.

I remember someone from a drug company came in and talked to the chemistry students and it blew my mind when he told us that a similar thing was true for a lot of drugs. All we care about is “are they safe?” and “do they work?” When you think about it, knowing HOW they work would be nice, but I wouldn’t want to wait for that before giving it to people as long as I knew it was safe and it worked.

I would replace carcinogenic with mutogenic.

If something things are capable of causing mutations they’re mutogenic and that’s the first step towards cancer.