Processed meat consumption has been linked to an increase in breast cancer, a study that analyzed all previous studies on the subject revealed this week.
For years experts have debated whether red and processed meat could cause cancer, but no definitive answer has been established as research continues to produce conflicting reports.
This latest International Journal of Cancer study, led by Dr. Maryam Farvid, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, set out to tackle the subject with the hope of establishing some solid findings.
An analysis was performed on all previously published studies on the topic and, after comparing the highest to the lowest category in the 15 studies, researchers discovered a 9 percent higher breast cancer risk in those who consumed processed meat.
"Previous works linked increased risk of some types of cancer to higher processed meat intake, and this recent meta-analysis suggests that processed meat consumption may also increase breast cancer risk," Farvid said in a statement. "Therefore, cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer."
The results are consistent with findings by researchers from the American Cancer Society, who established a link between the consumption of processed meat and an increased risk of colon cancer.
Researchers have also established other health risks related to the intake of processed meat.
Earlier this year, a report by the Johns Hopkins University suggested a link between processed meats and an elevated risk of mania, a mood disorder.
Data from more than 1,000 people with and without psychiatric problems showed those hospitalized for mania (hyperactivity, euphoria, and insomnia) were three-and-a-half times more likely to have ever eaten meats cured with nitrates as those who had no history of any mental disorder, Johns Hopkins Medicine said in a news release.
In 2010, a team from the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating processed meat such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, increased the risk of heart disease by 42 percent, and the risk of type 2 diabetes by 19 percent.
There was no increased risk of heart disease or diabetes associated with the consumption of unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb.
"The lifestyle factors associated with eating unprocessed red meats and processed meats were similar, but only processed meats were linked to higher risk," said Dariush Mozaffarian, co-author of that study.
"To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating. Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid," lead author Renata Micha added. "Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk."
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