Thursday, April 28, 2016

Processed meat may increase the risk of breast cancer for Latinas, USC study finds

Public Release: 2-Mar-2016
Processed meat may increase the risk of breast cancer for Latinas, USC study finds
Tuna has similar impact on white women, research suggests
University of Southern California

Latinas who eat processed meats such as bacon and sausage may have an increased risk for breast cancer, according to a new study that did not find the same association among white women.

The study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer Causes & Control, suggests that race, ethnicity, genetics, culture and lifestyle choices could all affect cancer risk, said Mariana Stern, senior author and director of graduate programs in molecular epidemiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


The findings came months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared processed meat a carcinogen that increases the risk of colorectal cancer.


In the study, Latinas who consumed about 20 grams of processed meat per day (the equivalent of a strip of bacon) were 42 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer compared to Latinas who ate little or no processed meats, said Andre Kim, lead author and a USC molecular epidemiology doctoral student.

"We're not entirely sure why processed meat association was restricted to Hispanics, especially since we know processed meats are carcinogens," Kim said.

Researchers also looked at consumption of red meats, poultry, all fish and just tuna. White women who ate an average of 14 grams of tuna daily (roughly the size of a thimble) were 25 percent more likely to have breast cancer than those who did not. The association for tuna on Latinas was comparable but not statistically significant.

While many fish contain omega-3 and other fatty acids, many also contain contaminant metals such as mercury and cadmium. Tuna has been reported to have a higher proportion of these contaminants, which may activate estrogen receptors and increase breast cancer risk, Stern said.

As a caveat, the authors noted the association between increased breast cancer risk and tuna could have been driven by chance because the two data sets researchers used had different ways of collecting tuna intake information.


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