Cancer Loves Red Meat

Pancreatic cancer risks increase with red and processed meat consumption

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Hot dogs slathered with chili. Brats and beer. Eggs and bacon. A hamburger and fries. These are all delicacies of the American cuisine. These meats are also about as unhealthy as anything you can eat for a number of reasons, including a new one.

Regularly eating red and processed meats - even in small amounts - increases the risks of pancreatic cancer. These risks vary among men and women a new study finds.

"Put processed meats on your avoid list."

Dr. Susanna Larsson and A Wolk from the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, a part of the National Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden analyzed 11 prospective studies involving 6,643 pancreatic cancer cases.

Researchers found that eating even two ounces of processed meat a day - a hot dog or couple of pieces of bacon - ups a person's risk of one of the worst forms of cancer by 19 percent.

The authors say that the culprit lies in the preservatives used in processed meats - nitrites and  N-nitroso compounds. N-nitroso compounds have been shown to cause pancreatic cancer in animal studies.

Another study found that dietary nitrites from animal sources were associated with increased risks of pancreatic cancer in humans.

Regularly consuming red meat was linked to increased risks of pancreatic cancer in men, but no such association was found in women.

Previous studies have shown that eating red and processed meats ups the risks of both colon and prostate cancer.

Still meat consumption isn't as risky as smoking, which increases a person's risk of pancreatic cancer by 74 percent.

Pancreatic cancer is tough to identify and even tougher to beat.

This study was published January 11, 2912 in the British Journal of Cancer.

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Review Date: 
January 13, 2012
Last Updated:
January 14, 2012