Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beware of Bacon – Higher Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Many Americans eat processed meats on a daily basis despite the strong suspicions that they may be loaded with preservatives. A new research published in the British Journal of Cancer shows a link between processed meats, like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and lunchmeat, etc., and pancreatic cancer.

The study of nearly 7,000 pancreatic cancer cases found that for every 50-gram serving of processed meat consumed, or about one link of sausage, your chance for pancreatic cancer increases 19 percent. Processed meats category may include sausages, pepperoni, bacon, ham, smoked turkey, hot dogs, and some other tasty staff, you eat for breakfast and throughout the day.

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Previous studies already showed a substantial link between processed meats and colon cancer risk. Last year, Harvard researchers found that people who eat a 3.5-ounce serving of processed meat a day -- about two slices of bacon, or a hot dog -- have a 51 percent increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.  And people who eat one 100-gram serving of red, unprocessed meat -- the size of a deck of cards -- a day have a 19 percent increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Last August, a study of 300,000 men and women, published in the journal Cancer, found people who ate large amounts of processed meats had a 30 percent increased risk for bladder cancer.

The review by Karolinska Institute researchers included an analysis of data from 11 different studies, which overall included 6,643 pancreatic cancer cases. The Swedish researchers explained that the problem with processed meats is the added nitrites and nitrate chemicals that preserve the meats and add color and flavor. "Look for products that don't have nitrites because the nitrites are the ones that they think are causing the cancer," Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, advised.

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The numbers might sound scary, but experts say this added risk is relatively small when you factor in overall pancreatic cancer rates in the general population. According to the National Cancer Institute, 13.6 per 100,000 U.S. men develop pancreatic cancer, compared with 10.7 pancreatic cases per 100,000 women. The researchers also said smoking is a bigger risk factor, which increases pancreatic cancer risk by 74 percent.

The statement that consuming processed meats increases the risk of pancreatic cancer has been confirmed by another new research conducted at the University of Hawaii that followed nearly 200,000 men and women for seven years. According to lead study author Ute Nothlings, people who consumed the most processed meats (hot dogs and sausage) showed a 67% increased risk of pancreatic cancer over those who consumed little or no meat products.

The same as in Swedish research, the negative impact of the processed meats to the consumers’ health can be attributed to the nitrites. Nearly all processed meats are made with sodium nitrite: breakfast sausage, hot dogs, jerkies, bacon, lunchmeat, and even meats in canned soup products. Yet this ingredient is a precursor to highly carcinogenic nitrosamines — potent cancer-causing chemicals that accelerate the formation and growth of cancer cells throughout the body. When consumers eat sodium nitrite in popular meat products, nitrosamines are formed in the body where they promote the growth of various cancers, including colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, says nutritionist Mike Adams.

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“Sodium nitrite is a dangerous, cancer-causing ingredient that has no place in the human food supply,” he explains. The USDA actually tried to ban sodium nitrite in the 1970′s, but was preempted by the meat processing industry, which relies on the ingredient as a color fixer to make foods look more visually appealing. “The meat industry uses sodium nitrite to sell more meat products at the expense of public health,” says Adams. “And this new research clearly demonstrates the link between the consumption of processed meats and cancer.”

There are skeptics however who said that these researches data is kind of inconclusive. James H. Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute, noted that these studies only took into account epidemiological data, and didn't look at other lifestyle factors that could contribute to cancer. He said in a written statement that eating red and processed meats is part of a healthy, balanced diet. "More often than not, epidemiological studies, over time, provide more contradictions than conclusions," he said.

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Alex Ford, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "Pancreatic Cancer UK is keen to see more research like this that helps improve our understanding about which aspects of diet and lifestyle may have a bearing on the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

"These findings, if confirmed by further studies, could help inform people on which lifestyle factors could play a role in limiting their chances of developing the disease."

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