A new study published in the journal The European Journal of Cancer provides additional evidence about the risk of processed meats, after relating the consumption of these foods with an increased risk of breast cancer.
In an analysis of more than 260,000 women, a team of researchers from the Institute of Health and Welfare at the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) found that the risk of breast cancer increased significantly for those who consumed more than 9 grams of processed meats. day, which amounts to around two sausages per week. No link was found between the intake of red meat and the risk of breast cancer.
Beware of processed meats
Processed meats are those that have been modified to improve their flavor or extend their shelf life. Sausages, bacon, hot dogs and salami are just some examples of processed meat. But, although these foods can tempt our taste buds, they do us very little good.
Already in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in a review of more than 800 studies, that processed meats increased the risk of colorectal cancer, while red meat was considered “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
Processed meats and breast cancer
The new study included data on 262,195 women between 40 and 69 years old. All of them were part of the UK Biobank study. The researchers used this data to calculate the intake of red meat and processed meat from the participants, and the incidence of breast cancer was identified through the cancer registry and hospital admission data.
In total, 4,819 women were diagnosed with breast cancer during the 7-year follow-up of the study.
Compared with women who had the lowest intake of processed meats, those who consumed at least 9 grams of processed meat per day had a 21% higher risk of breast cancer.
Later, the experts combined their analysis with the results of 10 previous studies that analyzed the intake of red and processed meats and the risk of breast cancer, which allowed them to evaluate the link in 1.65 million women. The findings revealed a 9% increase in the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer with ingestion of processed meat. Once again, no link was found between the intake of red meat and the risk of breast cancer.
These findings continued to be relevant taking into account other dietary factors, as well as lifestyle and sociodemographic factors and weight.
“In addition to the previously known effects of processed meat on other types of cancer, this adds further evidence that it may have a detrimental effect on breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women,” explains Naveed Sattar, co-author of the work.