Processed Meat Ups Pancreas Cancer Risk

ANAHEIM, California (Reuters) - Eating a lot of red meat, and particularly processed meat, increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to findings from a large multiethnic study.

The results hint that carcinogenic substances used in meat processing rather than the fat or cholesterol content might be responsible for the association, Dr. Ute Nothlings told Reuters Health at the annual gathering of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Nothlings, from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Honolulu, and colleagues examined the relationship between diet and pancreatic cancer in 190,545 men and women who included African Americans, Japanese Americans, Caucasians, Latinos and Native Hawaiians.

During an average follow up of 7 years, 482 subjects developed pancreatic cancer.

After taking into account age, smoking status, history of diabetes, family history of pancreatic cancer and ethnicity, subjects with the highest intake of processed meat had a 67 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those with the lowest intake of processed meat.

A high intake of pork and total red meat increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by about 50 percent.

Consumption of poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs did not influence the overall risk of pancreatic cancer, nor did overall intake of total fat, saturated fat or cholesterol.

"Due to the large size of the study with 482 cases, this is an important piece of evidence for a reduced intake of red meat and processed meat as target factors for disease prevention," Nothlings told Reuters Health.