Bacon and sausage diet linked to pancreatic cancer

Posted Jan 14, 2012 by Lynn Herrmann
Researchers in Sweden report a higher-than-recommended diet of processed meats, including bacon and sausage, can increase a person’s risk of pancreatic cancer, with the risk increasing as processed meat consumption increases.
A starter of meats  served with potatoes with crunchy jackets  and fluffy inside.
A starter of meats, served with potatoes with crunchy jackets, and fluffy inside.
While a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer is low, eating an extra 50 grams of processed meat, the equivalent of one sausage link or two slices of bacon per day, would increase the risk by 19 percent.
Susanna Larsson, a professor who led the study at the Karolinska Institute, said links to other cancers are controversial. “It is known that eating meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer, it’s not so much known about other cancers,” the BBC reports.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, was based on data from 11 trials and included 6,643 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It found the risk increased by 19 percent for each 50 grams of processed meat added to the diet. An extra 100 gram increase would raise the risk by 38 percent.
Larsson added, “Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates. So as well as diagnosing it early, it’s important to understand what can increase the risk of this disease.” Frequently diagnosed in its advanced stages, pancreatic cancer kills 80 percent of patients within the first year. Just five percent of patients are still living after the fifth year of diagnosis.
The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is comparatively small. About one in 77 men develop it and one in 79 women.
The World Cancer Research Fund advised eliminating processed meat from the diet. “There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and this study may be an early indication of another factor behind the disease,” said Dr. Rachel Thompson, according to the BBC.
“Regardless of this latest research, we have already established a strong link between eating red and processed meat and your chances of developing bowel cancer, which is why WCRF recommends limiting intake of red meat to 500g cooked weight a week and avoid processed meat altogether,” Thompson added.
Smoking, however, is believed to be a greater risk in contracting the disease. “We do know that, among lifestyle factors, smoking significantly ramps up the risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Sara Hiom, director of information at Cancer Research UK, the Guardian reports. “Stopping smoking is the best way to reduce your chances of developing many types of cancer and other diseases as well.”
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include an unexplained weight loss, weakness, nausea and loss of appetite, itching of skin, fever, diabetes, and an abdominal pain described as a dull, gnawing ache spreading to the back.