People who consume lots of processed meat run a greater risk of a premature death and are more likely to develop cancer and heart disease, according to a new study.
For every piece of sausage or two strips of bacon a person eats every day, there’s a 19 percent rise in risk for pancreatic cancer, the study found.
Processed meats, including sausage, pepperoni, bacon, ham, smoked turkey, and hot dogs, often contain nitrates and nitrites, which have been tied to cancer.
Furthermore, meat eaters who eat three sausages or six strips of bacon daily can see that percentage skyrocket to 57 percent. The study found red meat consumption came second only to smoking in terms of risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer, with risk increasing for every 50 grams of processed meat a person eats daily.
“Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates,” study author Susanna Larsson said. “If diet does affect pancreatic cancer, then this could influence public health campaigns to help reduce the number of cases of this disease developing in the first place.”
In the U.S., the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age, according to the American Cancer Society. Almost all patients are older than 45; average age at diagnosis is 72. Unfortunately, the five-year survival rate remains quite low — only about 5 percent.
As for whether eating red meat every day is linked to pancreatic cancer, the evidence was inconclusive, the researchers said. Men who ate red meat daily showed an increased risk, but not women — possibly because the men in the study ate more red meat than the women.