We all know of someone elderly whose very existence seems to fly in the face of health and nutritional science—a chain-smoking 90-something man or the 101-year-old who guzzles four alcoholic drinks a day. Now we can add 105-year-old Texas woman Pearl Cantrell to that list. Her vice (or virtue, depending on your viewpoint)? Bacon.
"I love bacon, I eat it everyday," Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC when asked the secret to her long life. "I don't feel as old as I am, that's all I can say."
She claims the cured pork meat helped her muscle through decades of manual farm labor working in fields. She may be onto something, as she's already outlived three of her seven children and, to this day, still goes out dancing. Word of her claim reached Oscar Meyer, who sent one of its iconic Weinermobiles to deliver bacon to her doorstep.
Cantrell's pearl of wisdom does, however, contradict boatloads of studies out there that say that processed meats decrease life span. The most recent study found that 4 pounds of uncooked bacon a day would kill a human, though that's more bacon than most people can stomach, anyway.
Other studies have pointed out that eating an additional 1.7 ounces of processed meats leads to a 19 percent increase in pancreatic cancer risk.
There is one recent piece of science that backs up her claim that bacon could be good for you: A University of Zurich study published in March by the journal BMC Medicine found that eating little or no red meat can cause early death (although the same study showed that eating too much bacon increases bowel cancer risk).
In the end, we're pretty sure it's a combination of awesome genetics and lifelong physical labor that have kept Pearl Cantrell alive so long. Still, it's fun to indulge the fantasy that bacon is the new (irresistably delicious) superfood.