It’s no secret that processed meats like bacon, ham, sausage, and salami make one of the most popular breakfast meals in the Western world. And no matter how tasty and convenient these food choices are, it’s time to think twice before tucking into your favorite meaty meal every day.
A recent study found that regular consumption of processed meats can increase the risk of breast cancer by 9 percent.
Researchers at Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health used 15 studies in this area – comprising data on 1.2 million women – and discovered that there are “significant positive associations between processed meat consumption [and] risk of breast cancer,” a report by CNN cited.
The study, however, did not suggest people to completely stop eating processed meat and warned that the study should be considered cautiously.
“Cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer,” lead author of the study Dr. Maryam Farvid wrote in the International Journal of Cancer, as quoted by CNN.
The recent study backs the findings of previous research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, which found that the consumption of processed meats can increase the likelihood of cancer because of the presence of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).
Processed meat is a term used for meats that have been preserved by smoking, curing, or salting. Bacon, sausages, salami, ham, hot dogs, and corned beef, all are processed meats.
Scientists consider them harmful because of the presence of chemicals that are not naturally present in meat. Regular consumption of processed meats is not only linked to high risk of various cancers, but it is also associated with other chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
It is the N-nitroso compounds that are used in the preservation of processed meats which likely make them carcinogenic. However, studies have shown that only long-term consumption of processed meats can increase the risk of cancer, but occasionally eating them doesn’t cause harm, per Health Line.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the U.S., irrespective of their race and ethnicity.
However, data shows that it is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women, while the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
The 2018 statistics by the World Health Organization show there have been 2.09 million cases of breast cancer reported worldwide.
Unlike many other types of cancer, breast cancer has high cure rates when detected early and treated according to best practices, according to the WHO.