In 1975 bacon caused cancer
In 1975 bacon caused cancer

Ever wondered why historians are so chilled out? It’s because every time the media reports some ‘new’ health scare we simply ask ourselves “Where have we read this before?” Today’s example is that bacon gives you cancer.

On the radio this morning and all over the Interwebz, you could not avoid being told that lighting up a Pepperami was going to make you die. Tonight.

In October 1975 Australians opened their newspapers to discover that the link between cancer and bacon was so certain the delicious smoked meat would soon disappear from every shop. Well, until 1979 when they opened their newspapers to find a senior research fellow of the Cancer Council assure them bacon was not even slightly carcinogenic.

So was this the first time bacon was accused and then absolved of evil deeds? Not even close.

If you’d opened your newspaper in 1902 you would have been shocked to discover bacon was causing cancer. Particularly cheap American bacon. Although in 1923, if you wanted to fight cancer all you had to do was eat more bacon.

1928. Bacon is good.
1923. Bacon is good. For the next five years, anyway.

Trouble is, by 1928 bacon was causing cancer. Again.

In 1928 Katanning residents were warned against hot drinks, bacon and pork. And advised to live in the mountains on natural foods and with “sun-flooded air”. Mountains being quite far from Katanning, it’s not clear how useful this guidance from the medical profession was.

Just wait a couple of years and bacon will be fighting cancer again. And then it will give it to you again. And then it will fight it again.

You don’t need a doctor. You need a historian.

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