Eating two rashers of bacon hikes cancer risk

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Eating two rashers of bacon a day can dramatically increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, and the risk goes up if a person eats more, experts have said.

Eating 50g of processed meat every day – the equivalent to one sausage or two rashers of bacon – increases risk by 19 per cent compared to people who do not eat processed meat at all.

For people consuming double this amount of processed meat (100g), the increased risk jumps to 38 per cent, and is 57 per cent for those eating 150g a day.

But experts cautioned that the overall risk of pancreatic cancer was relatively low. In the UK, the lifetime risk of developing the disease is one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women.

Nevertheless, the disease is deadly – it is frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage and kills 80 per cent of people in under a year.

Only five per cent of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis. The latest study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, is from researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

They examined data from 11 studies, including 6,643 cases of pancreatic cancer. They found inconclusive evidence on the risks of eating red meat overall compared to eating no red meat.

There was a 29 per cent increase in pancreatic cancer risk for men eating 120g per day of red meat but no increased risk among women. This may be because men in the study tended to eat more red meat than women.

They concluded: “Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that processed meat consumption is positively associated with pancreatic cancer risk.

“Red meat consumption was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men.

“However, further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings.”

The study adds to understanding about the risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer.

Overall, smoking is thought to account for around a third of all cases of the disease, and smokers have a 74 per cent increased risk of developing it compared to non-smokers.