Processed Meat Drastically Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Eating processed meats may escalate breast cancer risk above 20%.

Dietary guidelines suggest that individuals limit their intake of processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. It is recommended that individuals eat a diet that includes multiple servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead of processed meats, but many do not follow these recommendations.

A new study published by the European Journal of Cancer adds to mounting evidence that indicates consumption of processed meat may increase the risk of cancer, specifically breast cancer.

Included in the study were data from 262,195 women aged 40 to 69 years. The study authors reviewed data regarding meat consumption. Over 7 years of follow-up, 4819 women developed breast cancer.

The authors discovered that women who consumed processed meats were at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to the study. These findings remained true even when controlling for sociodemographic, lifestyle, obesity, and dietary factors.

Patients who had the highest intake of processed meats were 21% more likely to develop breast cancer compared with those who ate the lowest amount of processed meat, according to the study.

A meta-analysis revealed that processed meat was linked to an overall risk of breast cancer as well as post-menopausal disease; however, meat consumption was not linked to pre-menopausal breast cancer, according to the study.

The study findings suggest that processed meats have a carcinogenic effect and escalate the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

In contrast, the researchers did not find that red meat was directly linked to the risk of breast cancer, despite other studies that indicated a relationship.

Overall, these results suggest that Americans should avoid consuming processed meats to reduce the risk of cancer.

“Consumption of processed meat, but not red meat, may increase the risk of breast cancer,” the authors concluded.

A recent survey found that many Americans are uninformed about the risk of cancer associated with consuming alcohol and processed meats. More Americans reported that stress and other unfounded factors impacted cancer risk, rather than alcohol, processed meat, and lifestyle factors, according to the study. Although processed, cured meats are known to cause colorectal and stomach cancers, the study authors found that only 40% of Americans were aware of this fact in 2017, highlighting the need for increased education regarding diet and cancer.