Bacon or sausage? You might want to rethink that decision. Consuming processed meat regularly may increase a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, though the risk is still low, says a new study.
A meta-analysis of 11 studies involving 6,643 people with pancreatic cancer suggests an elevated risk of the disease when consuming processed meat such as bacon, cold cuts and sausages. In the study, men who ate red meat also showed an elevated risk of the disease, while women did not. The authors believe this is because men generally consume more red meat than women.
For every 50 grams a person adds of processed meat to their diet, the risk of pancreatic cancer increased by 19 per cent, according to the study.
"When results from all studies were combined, an increase of 50 grams per day of processed meat consumption was associated with a statistically significant 19 per cent increased risk of pancreatic cancer," the authors wrote.
For the study, 120 grams was deemed a serving of red meat per day, while 50 grams represented a serving of processed meat. A typical hot dog is about 45 grams.
"Processed meats are usually preserved with nitrite and may also contain N-nitroso compounds," write the authors. They say these compounds can also be formed in the stomach from nitrites and from compounds found in animal products and are potent carcinogens that have been shown to induce pancreatic cancer in animals.
The study was conducted by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and published Thursday online in the British Journal of Cancer.