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Woman Turns 105, Attributes Longevity To Bacon; Scientists Disagree [VIDEO]

May 08, 2013 02:35 PM EDT
Men trying to conceive should lay off the bacon, a Harvard University study suggests.
(Photo : Flickr kjetil_r)

When asked the secret to her long life, 105-year-old Pearl Cantrell of Richland Springs, Texas, gives a one word response: bacon.

“I love bacon, I could eat it for every meal – and I do,” she told local TV station KRBC, adding that she wants other people to eat bacon. “I tell them to. My kids all eat it.”

In celebration of her dedication, American meat and cold cut production company Oscar Mayer sent a representative to her 105th birthday party to offer the “bacon woman” a ride in the hot dog-shaped Wienermobile as well as more of her favorite meat.

However, while Cantrell may attribute her longevity to her diet, her daughter said her mother is still very active and loves to dance.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of saturated fat to less than 7 percent of one’s total calories, which comes out to 16 daily grams per day for those on a diet of 2,000 calories.

However, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, no amount of processed meat is safe to eat, including ham, sausage, hot dogs, bologna, salami, pepperoni and pastrami.

Though it’s not entirely clear why the consumption of processed meats appears to lead to a higher risk of several types of cancer, according to WebMD, one possibility includes nitrates, which are often used as preservatives in processed meat and are known to change into compounds that promote cancer in the meat as well as in the gut during digestion.

Another potential culprit is the frequent use of carcinogenic compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) during processing.

Furthermore, a recent study published in BMC Medicine, showed that individuals who consume more than 20 grams, or the equivalent of one strip of bacon, a day are more likely to die of a stroke, cancer or a myocardial infarction.

Specifically, the study led by University of Zurich researchers found that “high meat” consumers were 72 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 11 percent more likely to die of cancer.

However, the study’s lead author Sabine Rohrmann said that eating processed meats alone is not going to increase one’s risk of mortality but that other lifestyle choices play a part such as smoking, drinking and a lack of exercise.

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