Bacon should be avoided for breast cancer

Diets high in bacon and other processed meats have been linked in population studies to higher risks of leukemia, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer. Processed meats include those that are salted, cured, smoked or preserved, including hot dogs, sausage, ham, bologna, other sandwich or luncheon meats, pÔtÚs, salami, pepperoni, and beef jerky, to name a few. Fresh pork is covered in another web page.

Processed meats tend to have high saturated fat content. Sodium nitrite and related compounds are normally added to processed meats to preserve their freshness and coloring. Sodium nitrite has been shown to react with chemicals in the stomach to produce nitrosamines, which are known to be cancer-promoting. In addition to their nitrite content, the carcinogenic potential of processed meats appears to be related to the effects of frying or broiling, which have been shown to produce mutagenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). One study reported that fried bacon had a higher level of HCAs than fried pork, fried beef and fried chicken.

Breast cancer-related effects of eating bacon

A large 2007 U.K. study found that both premenopausal and postmenopausal women with the highest processed meat intake had the highest risk of breast cancer. Another study found that higher red meat consumption during adolescence was associated with increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer in adulthood. A study of tissue removed from healthy women undergoing breast reduction surgery found that the levels of DNA adducts (which are associated with cancer development) in the breast tissue was correlated with the women's consumption of fried meat, beef and processed meat. High intake of animal fats has been linked in several studies to increased breast density, a risk factor for breast cancer and recurrence. Another study found that consumption of well done or fried meat (including bacon) appeared to increase the risk of breast cancer in a dose-dependent manner. A study that examined the risks of recurrence and death following diagnosis with early-stage breast cancer found that both the risk of recurrence and the risk of death were positively correlated with the consumption of bacon, especially for premenopausal women.

Additional comments

Generally speaking, bacon-like products made from turkey, beef, and combinations of pork and turkey also contain sodium nitrite and form carcinogenic nitrosamines when consumed, however the levels tend to be lower than traditional bacon.

Below are links to recent studies concerning this food. For a more complete list of studies, please click on processed meat.

Tags: arachidonicAcid, bacon, heterocyclicAmines, PAHs, pork, processedMeat, redMeat, salt, wellDoneMeat

Selected breast cancer studies

Adolescent meat intake and breast cancer risk Dietary patterns and breast cancer: a case-control study in women Prospective association between red and processed meat intakes and breast cancer risk: modulation by an antioxidant supplementation in the SU.VI.MAX randomized controlled trial Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study Hypercholesterolemia Induces Angiogenesis and Accelerates Growth of Breast Tumors in Vivo Premenopausal dietary fat in relation to pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer Dietary Fat Intake and Development of Specific Breast Cancer Subtypes Arachidonic acid promotes migration and invasion through a PI3K/Akt-dependent pathway in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells LDL-cholesterol signaling induces breast cancer proliferation and invasion Dietary protein restriction inhibits tumor growth in human xenograft models Associations between red meat intake and biomarkers of inflammation and glucose metabolism in women Racial disparities in red meat and poultry intake and breast cancer risk Traditional dietary pattern of South America is linked to breast cancer: an ongoing case-control study in Argentina Reduction of Carcinogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Meat by Sugar-Smoking and Dietary Exposure Assessment in Taiwan Dietary pattern analysis and biomarkers of low-grade inflammation: a systematic literature review Animal Protein Intakes during Early Life and Adolescence Differ in Their Relation to the Growth Hormone-Insulin-Like-Growth-Factor Axis in Young Adulthood Meat consumption and mortality - results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Dietary patterns and survival in German postmenopausal breast cancer survivors Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and phenolic substances in smoked Frankfurter-type sausages depending on type of casing and fat content Dietary patterns and breast cancer risk among women in northern Tanzania: a case-control study Critical role of arachidonic acid-activated mTOR signaling in breast carcinogenesis and angiogenesis

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