Eating processed meat such as sausage or bacon appears to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. These results were published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Each year, close to 44,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States and more than 37,000 die from the disease. The disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, and treatment of advanced disease remains challenging.
Smoking is known to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, but the role of other lifestyle factors remains uncertain. To evaluate whether intake of red or processed meat affects risk, researchers conducted a combined analysis of several previously published studies. Red and processed meat has been linked with certain other gastrointestinal cancers—such as colorectal cancer—but there hasn’t been a clear link with pancreatic cancer.
Information was available from 11 studies that enrolled a total of 6,643 people with pancreatic cancer.
- People who consumed roughly one serving of processed meat per day had a 19 percent increase in risk of pancreatic cancer.
- Red meat consumption was linked with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men but not in women.
These results suggest that processed meats such as sausage and bacon may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Dietary guidelines from the American Cancer Society encourage plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If red or processed meats are consumed, consumption should be limited.
 Larsson SC, Wolk A. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: meta-analysis of prospective studies. British Journal of Cancer. Early online publication January 12, 2012.
 American Cancer Society. Press release: Updated American Cancer Society nutrition guidelines stress need for supportive environment. January 11, 2012.
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