Processed Meats Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 4, 2018 -- Women who eat processed meats such as bacon, sausages and ham have an increased risk of breast cancer, researchers say.

They analyzed studies that included more than 1.2 million women and found that those who regularly ate processed meats were 9 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, CNN reported.

"This systematic review and meta-analysis study reports significant positive associations between processed meat consumption with risk of breast cancer," the authors wrote.

"Cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer," according to lead author Dr. Maryam Farvid, School of Public Health, Harvard University, CNN reported.

However, experts said the findings should be regarded with caution.

The paper leaves "many questions unanswered" and does not prove that higher consumption of processed meats led directly to breast cancer, Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics, Open University, U.K., told CNN.

The World Health Organization categorizes processed meat as a carcinogen.

But "while the evidence for classifying processed meat as a carcinogen is strong, the actual risk to the individual is very small and it is more relevant on a population level," Gunter Kuhnle, associate professor in nutrition and health, University of Reading, U.K., told CNN.