Eating bacon and sausages could increase risk of breast cancer

Henrietta Strickland
October 5, 2018

Stern, who authored the study, says avoiding processed meats is key and red meat should be limited to about 18 ounces per week.

"When we look at all the evidence together there is an increased risk of breast cancer with diets high in processed meats", said Dr. Mariana Stern with University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

It looked at 15 previous studies and found that eating processed meats is associated with a almost 10 percent higher breast cancer risk.

Dr Gunter Kuhnle, associate professor in nutrition and health at the University of Reading, who was not involved in the study, said it was "questionable" whether people should lower their red and processed meat consumption on the back of this study.

"I just can't tell you how many more cases of breast cancer there would be if everyone ate an extra bacon sandwich a day - this research just can't give that information", added McConway.

But scientists did not suggest people cut processed meats from their diets entirely, and experts warned that the study should be met with caution.

15 percent of cases occur in women under the age of 44. In 2015, the World Health Organization classified processed meat as a carcinogen because studies show it can increase the risk for colorectal and potentially stomach cancers.

Processed meat is an umbrella term which refers to meats that have been altered, either for preservation or taste purposes.

Should we eliminate processed meat?

They include hot dogs, some deli meats, ham, bacon, and sausage.

Lead author Dr Maryam Farvid, of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in the United States, recommends cutting down on the meat rather than eliminating it.

However, the NHS recommends eating no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day, which is considerably higher than this.

The study doesn't prove that processed meat causes cancer, only that there's an association between the two.

He said the actual risk posed by processed meats was "very small" for the individual and more relevant on a population-wide level.

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