Physicians Committee Launches Public Health Campaign to Educate Consumers on Preventing Colon Cancer

A hard-hitting TV advertisement, “Window,” is scheduled to air beginning Feb. 13 and it will run through Feb. 19 on either MSNBC or Fox News Channel in the 18 states with high death rates from colorectal cancer. The ad highlights the increased colorectal cancer risk associated with bacon and other processed meats. According to the World Health Organization, eating even one serving of processed meat, including bacon, daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. This public health awareness campaign is sponsored by The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors.

“The Physicians Committee is launching this nationwide public health campaign to warn consumers of the health risks of bacon and other processed meats,” says Minh Nguyen, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian at the Physicians Committee and The Barnard Medical Center. “Studies show that avoiding processed meat, including bacon, and eating whole grains and other healthful plant-based foods reduces your risk of colorectal cancer.” Plant-based meals can also help people prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top 18 states with high death rates from colorectal cancer are: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, District of Columbia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, Illinois, South Dakota, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, and Ohio.

The “Window” ad will air about three times per day Feb. 13 to 19 in the capital cities of the 18 states with high death rates from colorectal cancer. In addition, the advertisement will air near the headquarters or production facilities of three major bacon-producing companies. The targeted companies are Tyson Foods in Arkansas, ad airing in Fayetteville/Fort Smith; Hormel Foods in Minnesota, ad airing in Rochester; and a Smithfield facility in South Dakota, ad airing in Sioux Falls. In those three cities, “Window” will air for three days, Feb. 13, 14 and 15, on all available ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox affiliate TV stations.

The Physicians Committee is urging Tyson, Hormel, and Smithfield to develop and aggressively promote plant-based bacon options. Giving customers plant-based bacon products would cut the risk of colorectal cancer associated with bacon, and it would respond to growing consumer demand. Nielsen data show that the sales of plant-based meats grew 24 percent in the last year while animal meat sales only grew 2 percent. Additionally, 39 percent of Americans are actively seeking plant-based alternatives to use in their diets. Tyson has been quick to respond to this major consumer trend by investing in Beyond Meat.

The 30-second TV advertisement airing nationwide features a man cooking bacon in his kitchen. The bacon begins to appear around his apartment before he attempts to hungrily grab it from the windowsill and falls out the window. The text reveals that “Bacon is a Killer” and that “Two strips of bacon per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.” Viewers are directed to learn more at

The World Health Organization warns that processed meat, including bacon, is “carcinogenic to humans” and there is no amount safe for consumption. WHO explains that its assessment is “…based on sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.” A recent study published in JAMA Surgery, finds that colon cancer is increasing in young people (ages 20 to 34 years). These cancer-causing foods should be replaced with healthful, plant-based options.

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