What about the IARC statement that “each 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%”? Fifty grams is not a lot — it’s about two slices of bacon. Moreover, IARC ominously pointed out, there is no known safe level of processed-meat consumption.

Cancer Research UK, which, like every other cancer watcher, noted the link between cancer and processed meats years ago, put the degree of risk into perspective with a less alarmed blog post this week.

Out of every 1,000 Britons, said the group, you’d expect 66 to develop bowel cancer at some point in their lives — 10 more than the group who eat the least-processed meat.

Dr. Elizabeth Lund, a widely quoted expert in nutrition (she is a former research leader at the Institute of Food Research), says the actual risk is even smaller than that — three more people out of every 100,000 will get cancer due to their consumption of red meat.