Researchers found that women had 90% more risk of developing cancer if bacon and other processed food items are regularly eaten. WHO had published similar findings previously. Although women are advised to be cautious, the actual risk is ‘very small’, say experts.
The study to find link between processed meat and breast cancer has results from a million women. But the reason behind development of the disease isn’t clear in many instances. Also different studies consider different consumptions levels to be the maximum. Records were kept of what every study subject consumed and it was later examined to see if their food intake had increased their risk of being affected by cancer. But a basic flaw to the study was that it did not consider other factors other than food that could have been the cause behind a woman’s cancer diagnosis- for instance her earlier health-related issues.
14 in every 100 women in UK are diagnosed with breast cancer meaning that 9% increase in risk would add 1 extra cancer case in 100 women. UK Cancer Research shows that 23% of breast cancers can be prevented- which includes 8% of cases due to obesity and being overweight and a further 8% due to consumption of alcohol. The study however is only based on processed meat and not red meat. Meat has been listed as carcinogenic after seeing proof of increased bowel cancer risk and red meat has been labeled as ‘probably’ carcinogenic.
In order to increase shelf-life or to alter taste by adding preservatives or salt or smoking or curing the meat, meat is processed. This includes sausages, bacon, hotdogs, corned beef, salami, ham and beef jerky. A theory suggests that salt added for flavor reacts with meat’s protein and makes it carcinogenic.
Dr. Farvid suggests lowering rate of processed meat intake instead of stopping it. NHS currently recommends maximum of 70g processed and red meat intake per day. Dr. Kuhnle however believes that the risks are applicable on wider population-based levels and not individual ones. But he added that results of study should be followed to investigate potential links between cancer and processed meat.