Pancreatic cancer: Is it time to ditch red and processed meat?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Processed and red meat linked to pancreatic cancer risk in meta-analysis.
Advertisement

A new study published in the British Journal of Cancer, highlights the increased risk of pancreatic cancer associated with eating red and processed meats. But overall, the risk was low, meaning too much could put you at risk for cancer of the pancreas and even colon or stomach cancer.

Researchers don’t really know what causes pancreatic cancer, but studies have suggested there are risk factor – links to cancer of all types; from a combination of factors including heredity, environmental factors and even bacteria and viruses, as is the case with HPV and cervical cancer.

In the newest study, researchers found an increase of 120g a day of red med upped the chances of developing the disease for men, but not for women.

Eating processed meat – 50g more a day, or one serving, was also found to boost the odds of pancreatic cancer for both men and women.

According to the authors, the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 5.5%. Just eating meat was associated with the odds of developing cancer of the pancreas.

Advertisement

The finding is significant from a public health perspective, explains Susanna Larsson, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, where the research was conducted.

The current study does show red and processed meat will up your chances of pancreatic cancer, but it will take more studies to confirm the finding.

The authors say the study didn’t take into account smoking status, which may have contributed to the increased risk. Many of the studies also failed to take into account diabetes and obesity, which are also linked to higher chances of cancer.

In a statement, The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) said, “What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.”

It may not be time to ditch red and processed meats yet. Larger studies should clarify whether red and processed meat consumption increases the chances of pancreatic cancer, found in the current study. However, it may be prudent to keep meat portions small and focus on whole, fresh fruits and vegetables for optimal nutrition and lowering risk of a variety of diseases. Other studies suggest red meat might up the chances of colon cancer.

BJC
"Red and processed meat consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: meta-analysis of prospective studies"
S C Larsson and A Wolk
January 12, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile

Advertisement

Comments

It was interesting to see which components of the meat were to blame, based on the NIH/AARP study: nutritionfacts.org/videos/largest-study-ever/