It is estimated that nearly 49,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015. Because there are no early tests to diagnose the disease, more people die from pancreatic cancer than any other cancer. An estimated 74% of pancreatic cancer victims will die within the first year they are diagnosed, and only 7% of those diagnosed will live more than 5 years.
While the cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, some research studies have shown that eating red and processed meats like bacon is linked to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Researchers in Stockholm, Sweden published a study in 2012 that found men who ate two strips of bacon or one sausage link per day had a 19% increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Their risk increased to 29% when they consumed 120g of red meat per day.
Another study published in BMC Medicine in 2013 looked at disease rates for those who consumed poultry, red, and processed meats. The researchers found a significant link between the intake of processed meats and the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. These findings were not as significant for unprocessed red meat and poultry. The experts concluded that processed meat consumption was linked to mortality rates and estimated that 3.3% of related deaths could be prevented if less than 20g of processed meat per day was consumed.
There is a key factor in these studies along with others that have been done on processed meats and cancer. Conventionally processed meats contain nitrates, a substance added as a preservative that also gives processed meat its red color. Various studies have long linked nitrates to cancer, so this is an important consideration when concluding that bacon or other processed meats cause pancreatic and other cancers.
With the rising cases of cancer and devastating numbers of cancer deaths, science continues to look at possible contributors. According to some studies, the relationship between pancreatic cancer and processed bacon and other meats is worthy of serious consideration. Reducing the risk of developing pancreatic cancer should include paying attention to the foods we buy and eat.
While researchers agree that more studies need to be done about the relationship between processed meat and diseases like pancreatic cancer, there appears to be enough evidence to take caution. There is plenty of data to support that eating a diet comprised of healthy, whole foods goes a long way to support a healthy body and fight disease. Playing it safe and enjoying favorite processed meats like bacon only in moderation can be an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.