Processed meat has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, according to new research.
Eating bacon and sausages on a regular basis could up your chances of getting the disease by 9% compared to those who consume low levels of these foods, it has been reported.
These findings support previous studies by the World Health Organisation linking the consumption of processed meats with higher cancer incidence rates.
Processed meat has been modified to either change its taste – through smoking or curing – or extend its shelf life through adding preservatives or extra salt.
Example includes sausages, hot dogs, beef jerky, corned beef, canned meat, bacon and salami.
Lead author Dr. Maryam Farvid, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said of the findings: “Previous works linked increased risk of some types of cancer to higher processed meat intake, and this recent meta-analysis suggests that processed meat consumption may also increase breast cancer risk.
“Therefore, cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer.”
Breast cancer risk in the UK
Statistics from Cancer Research UK state one in seven women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime – meaning the risk of developing the condition is just over 14%.
If the research is correct, eating high levels of processed meat would increase a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer by a further 9%.
Men can also develop breast cancer, with between 350 and 400 cases occurring each year, according to the NHS.
Breast cancer prevention
Cancer Research states on its website almost a quarter (also 23%) of breast cancer cases are preventable.
While many are simply unlucky, the website predicts some 8% of cases are caused by being overweight and obese, while another 8% are linked to alcohol consumption.
Other risk factors include not breastfeeding (5%), post menopausal hormones (2%) and oral contraceptives (less than 1%).
The NHS website warns you should check your breasts regularly: “You should see your GP as soon as possible if you notice any symptoms of breast cancer, such as an unusual lump in your breast or any change in the appearance, feel or shape of your breasts.”
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