Study: Daily ba­con can up cancer risk

The Tribune (SLO) - - Weather & Sports - BY NANCY CLAN­TON

Eat­ing even a mod­er­ate amount of red or pro­cessed meat in­creases your risk of hav­ing colon cancer, a new study con­cluded.

Ex­perts at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford, Univer­sity of Auck­land and the cancer re­search arm of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion an­a­lyzed the di­ets and cancer rates of nearly half a mil­lion peo­ple who par­tic­i­pate in the U.K. Biobank re­search project. The Biobank is a na­tional and in­ter­na­tional health re­source with un­par­al­leled re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties, open to all bona fide health re­searchers.

The sci­en­tists fol­lowed par­tic­i­pants for nearly six years and found those who ate an av­er­age of 76 grams (al­most 3 ounces) of red or pro­cessed meat (salted, cured, fer­mented, smoked, or other­wise treated to “en­hance fla­vor or im­prove preser­va­tion”) a day – which is in line with U.K. gov­ern­ment guides – had a 20% higher risk of colon cancer than those who had 21 grams a day.

“Our re­sults strongly sug­gest that peo­ple who eat red and pro­cessed meat four or more times a week have a higher risk of de­vel­op­ing bowel cancer than those who eat red and pro­cessed meat less than twice a week,” said Tim Key, co-au­thor of the study and deputy di­rec­tor of the Cancer Epi­demi­ol­ogy Unit of Nuffield Depart­ment of Pop­u­la­tion Health.

“There is sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence that red and pro­cessed meat are linked to bowel cancer, and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion clas­si­fies pro­cessed meat as car­cino­genic and red meat as prob­a­bly car­cino­genic,” Key added. “Most pre­vi­ous re­search looked at peo­ple in the 1990s or ear­lier, and di­ets have changed sig­nif­i­cantly since then, so our study gives a more up-to-date in­sight that is rel­e­vant to meat con­sump­tion to­day.”

Both men and women, ages 40-69, par­tic­i­pated in the study, which was pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Epi­demi­ol­ogy.

One in 15 men and 1 in 18 women born af­ter 1960 in the U.K. will be di­ag­nosed with bowel cancer in their life­time. Re­searchers found the cancer risk rose by 19 per­cent for ev­ery 25 grams of pro­cessed meat – a slice of ham or ba­con – that peo­ple ate daily, and by 18 per­cent for each 50 grams of red meat – equiv­a­lent to a thick slice of roast beef or a lamb cut­let.

Key said the re­searchers are not sug­gest­ing the gov­ern­ment change its guide­lines on eat­ing red or pro­cessed meat.

“Meat is im­por­tant for iron,” Key told the Guardian. “We would want to con­sider other as­pects of health if we were go­ing to change the rec­om­men­da­tion. The main mes­sage for the public is that it re­in­forces the gov­ern­ment ad­vice that we shouldn’t eat large amounts of red and pro­cessed meat.”

Julie Sharp, Cancer Re­search UK’s head of health in­for­ma­tion, said: “The gov­ern­ment guide­lines on red and pro­cessed meat are gen­eral health ad­vice, and this study is a re­minder that the more you can cut down be­yond this, the more you can lower your chances of de­vel­op­ing bowel cancer.”

Cut­ting meat con­sump­tion is in line with a land­mark study ear­lier this year.

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