Eating 3 strips of bacon a week increases women’s chance of breast cancer: study

Processed meats are linked to yet another type of cancer, researchers find.
Processed meats are linked to yet another type of cancer, researchers find. Janet Moore/EyeEm/Getty Images

Eating processed meat may increase the risk of breast cancer, a new study says.

According to researchers at the University of Glasgow, post-menopausal women who consume the equivalent of three strips of bacon or two sausages (the equivalent to 9 grams) every week could be a fifth more likely to get the disease.

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The study looked at data from 273,466 women in the UK between the ages of 40 and 69 from the Biobank (which collected information on meat consumption) between 2007 and 2010. Researchers then included the results in a meta-analysis of cohort studies.

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Among those women, 262,195 of them ate processed meat and they were found to have the highest risk. Even women who ate less than 9 g of carcinogenic meats a week were still at a 15 per cent increase of getting breast cancer than those who didn’t eat such meats.

“In addition to the previously known effects of processed meat on other kinds of cancer, this adds further evidence that it may have a deleterious effect on breast cancer, particularly in post-menopausal women,” co-author Naveed Sattar told The Independent.

“If you take it at face value and say there’s an association, then it means that if people were to eat less processed meat they might well reduce their risk of breast cancer.”

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A growing list of studies throughout the years have linked eating processed meats to other types of cancers in both women and men.

One 2017 study by the American Institute for Cancer Research linked processed meat consumption with a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. People who ate more than 500 grams cooked weight a week were at a greater risk of getting the cancer.

Another 2017 study by the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston also warned men about red meat consumption as it increased their risk of getting diverticulitis, a common inflammatory bowel condition.

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Bacon in particular was linked to a higher chance of getting stomach cancer, a 2016 report by the American Institute for Cancer Research revealed.

Breast cancer affects one in eight Canadian women in their lifetime, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation reports.

It’s estimated that about 26,300 women and 230 men in Canada were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.

– With files from Carmen Chai