Eating just three rashers of bacon or two sausages a week could raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer, a new study has claimed.
The study didn’t, however, find an association between eating red meat and increased breast cancer risk. Nor did it find a link between breast cancer risk and processed meat intake in premenopausal women.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.
The study used data from UK Biobank - a general population study involving people aged 40-69 years old.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that processed meats were as big a cancer threat as cigarettes and placed them in the same category as carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.
Since then, researchers have developed a new ‘healthier’ form of bacon which is free from nitrites, preservatives, E numbers and all allergens. The product, called Naked Bacon, has been hailed by experts as a “very welcome development”.
Marks and Spencer is the first store to launch the bacon, which is (coincidentally) available in stores as of 3 January and is priced at £3 per pack.
Commenting on the study’s findings, Dr Jasmine Just, from Cancer Research UK, told HuffPost UK: “The jury is still out on any link between eating lots of processed meat and breast cancer because this study didn’t take into account other important factors that affect breast cancer risk like screening and family history.
“The best ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer are to keep a healthy weight, cut down on alcohol and be physically active.”
That said, she acknowledged that eating a lot of processed meat has been proven to increase the risk of other cancers, such as bowel cancer.
“So, while the odd salami sandwich won’t do much harm, it’s still a good idea to cut down where you can,” she concluded.