Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Bacon rashers linked to cancer risk

People who eat two rashers of bacon a day have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a new study has found
People who eat two rashers of bacon a day have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer, a new study has found

Eating two rashers of bacon a day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 19% and the risk goes up if a person eats more, experts have said.

Eating 50g of processed meat every day - the equivalent to one sausage or two rashers of bacon - increases the risk by 19% compared to people who do not eat processed meat at all.

For people consuming double this amount of processed meat (100g), the increased risk jumps to 38%, and is 57% for those eating 150g a day.

However experts cautioned that the overall risk of pancreatic cancer was relatively low - in the UK, the lifetime risk of developing the disease is one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women.

Nevertheless, the disease is deadly - it is frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage and kills 80% of people in under a year. Only 5% of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis.

The latest study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, is from researchers at the respected Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. They examined data from 11 studies, including 6,643 cases of pancreatic cancer.

They found inconclusive evidence on the risks of eating red meat overall compared to eating no red meat.

They found a 29% increase in pancreatic cancer risk for men eating 120g per day of red meat but no increased risk among women. This may be because men in the study tended to eat more red meat than women.

They concluded: "Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that processed meat consumption is positively associated with pancreatic cancer risk. Red meat consumption was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men. Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings."

Alex Ford, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "Pancreatic Cancer UK is keen to see more research like this that helps improve our understanding about which aspects of diet and lifestyle may have a bearing on the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. These findings, if confirmed by further studies, could help inform people on which lifestyle factors could play a role in limiting their chances of developing the disease."

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