Researchers publishing in the British Journal of Cancer have determined that processed meat consumption increases the risk of developing one of the most deadly forms of pancreatic cancer by nineteen percent in men and women. In addition, the same study found that a diet high in red meat can lead to increased risk of the disease in men. Eating the equivalent of one sausage or two strips of bacon each day was found to jump the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in this prospective meta-analysis study, compared to those who consumed no meat.
A diet of just over four ounces of red meat eaten daily increased the risk of pancreatic cancer in men by close to thirty percent. Health-minded individuals wishing to limit their risk for developing pancreatic cancer will want to eliminate processed meats and severely limit red meat consumption.
Research Shows That Processed Meats and Smoking Dramatically Increase Pancreatic Cancer Risk
The lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer in western cultures is 1 in 79 for women and 1 in 77 for men, compared to smoking which increases the risk by 74%. Any habit that increases the risk of developing this form of the disease that defies early diagnosis and carries a dismal five-year survival rate less than five percent is unacceptable.
British researchers conducted a meta-analysis of eleven significant studies involving more than 6,000 individuals with pancreatic cancer. The scientist’s compiled details on the consumption of processed and red meats for the study subjects across all studies considered, and then analyzed to determine the impact on disease genesis and prognosis. The study leader, Professor Susanna Larsson noted “Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates. So as well as diagnosing it early, it’s important to understand what can increase the risk of this disease.”
Deadly Carcinogenic Amines Form When Meats are Cooked at High Temperatures
Researchers found that process meats contain a high level of nitrites and N-nitroso compounds used to preserve the meat and provide flavor. The positive association between processed meat consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer increases as the compounds pass from the bloodstream to the pancreas where they are known to be carcinogenic. In a similar fashion, humans are exposed to N-nitroso compounds via cigarette smoking, an established risk factor for pancreatic cancer. The study suggests that the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is greatly increased with a diet of processed meats and smoking.
Interestingly, the study did not find that eating red meat increased pancreatic cancer risk in women. The authors believe this is because women eat less red meat than men, and there is a tolerance level exceeded by men and not women. Similar studies have shown that heterocyclic amines form when red meat is cooked using high-temperature methods such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame, dramatically increasing pancreatic cancer risk.
Health-minded individuals are well advised to avoid all processed meats (sausage, bacon and luncheon meats). The study researchers concluded “The jury is still out as to whether meat is a definite risk factor for pancreatic cancer and more large studies are needed to confirm this. But this new analysis suggests processed meat may be playing a role.”