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Processed meat cancer risks for bacon, sausages, ham, red meat

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John uses Biochemistry and Physiology (PhD) skills to review health topics, disease prevention, home remedies for ailments & better health

Health authorities have recommended that people reduce the amount of processed meat and red meat to reduce the risk of bowel cancer. This includes bacon, salami, ham, sausages and similar processed red meat. A new research study in Sweden has found an association between pancreatic cancel and processed meat. Eating an additional 50g of processed meat, about one sausage, every day increased the risk by 19% and eating an extra 100g per day increased the risk by 38%. Processed meat consumption has also been linked with ovarian cancer.

This study supports the previous recommendation for reducing bowel cancer risk by not exceeding 70g of processed meat a day, which is equal to about three rashers of bacon, three slices of ham or salami or two sausages. Many authorities have suggested that processed meats should be eliminated completely because of the risks and that red meat consumption should also be restricted. Others have warned that reducing red meat consumption would put people at risk of iron deficiencies. However there are many other dietary sources of iron (see Iron Rich Foods for Natural Treatment of Iron Deficiencies).

The new study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, reviewed data from almost 7,000 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is deadly, and Steve Jobs (SEO Apple computer company) recently died from it.

Pancreatic cancel has a 5-year relative survival of about 5.5%, which is one of the worst types of cancer.

The analysis of previous studies showed that eating and extra 50 g per day or processed meat, which is about one serving, was correlated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer or 19%.

Red meat consumption was associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk in men (who eat more red meats), but not for women and men combined.

There were limitation in the study because the exact amount of red and processed meat consumed was not measured exactly.

Similarly smoking and obesity are significant risk actors for pancreatic cancel and although addressed in the studies, make have still influenced the results.

Additional research is required to confirm the findings.

The study concluded that there was a significant positive association between processed meat consumption and the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Red meat consumption was positively associated with cancer risk in men.


The Department of Health in England advises people to cut back on processed meat and red and to reduce their risk of getting bowel cancer. It suggests that people consume no more than 70g a day - equivalent to two sausages or three rashers of bacon.

Bowel Cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK - with about 36,000 people diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, and it kills about 16,500 each year. Eating 100 to 120 g of red and processed meat a day - things like ham, salami and sausages - increases the risk of developing bowel cancer by about 25%.

The World Cancer Research Fund has recommended eliminating processed meat completely.

Reducing red meat consumption could put people at greater risk of iron deficiency because most people get the iron they need from red meat which is a very good source of iron. However there are many other sources of iron ---link. Iron deficiency causes anaemia, which triggers to dizzy spells and tiredness. It can also affect brain development and cause behavioural problems.

© janderson99-HubPages

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


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  • BlissfulWriter profile image

    BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

    Good points. That reminds me to cut out bacon that they sometimes put in the pre-packaged salads.

    The larger land animals (such as cows and pork) bio-accumulates more toxins in their fat than smaller animals like chicken and turkey. So try to eat fresh chicken and turkey instead.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

    Sobering news, which I didn't know about. Thanks for pointing it out. Voting this Up and Useful.

  • ElizaDoole profile image

    Lisa McKnight 5 years ago from London

    Hot story janderson, I only heard this news on the radio this morning! You are up there with the salaried journalists. Great hub.

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