News / Health

Study: Processed Meat Raises Colorectal Cancer Risk

Jessica Berman
Many studies have shown that eating too much red meat is bad for your health; but, a new study has found that eating processed meat significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer in some people.  

Eating five or more servings per week of processed meat more than doubles the risk of colorectal cancer in people who have certain variants of a specific gene, according to Jane Figueiredo of the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.  Colorectal cancer is a leading form of cancer disease and death worldwide.

The findings are based on a meta-analysis of 10 earlier studies involving 18,000 people in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe, which looked at the health effects of eating meats that contain nitrates as preservatives.

"It's anything that is cured, dried, smoked, cooked [or] packaged.  And so the most common items around the countries we were studying would include bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages, pate, cold cuts," said Figueiredo.

The scientists compared the blood samples of some 9,000 people with colorectal cancer to 9,000 people without the disease, looking at one particular region of the genome.  Colorectal cancer is a complex illness with some 30 genetic variations tied to an increased risk of developing it.  

The researchers found the people with two of the genetic variants that were the focus of the study, and who ate processed meats almost every day, had the highest risk for colorectal cancer.

Figueiredo says the potentially harmful alleles - or changes in a specific gene - are extremely common.

“It happens in one in three individuals; that these individuals are actually at even at higher risk of the carcinogenic effects in processed meat," she said.

Does that mean that people with two copies of the genetic variants can eat more bacon and ham than those at the highest cancer risk?

“People have asked me that and I think that we should also limit our consumption of processed meat.  It still more modestly increases risk at least in individuals that don’t have this variant allele.  But it still is a small effect.  It's just a much larger effect in individuals that carry certain genetic changes," said Figueiredo.

Her team systematically sifted through millions of genetic variants of the study participants, identifying those that are associated with the effects of meat, fiber, fruit and vegetable consumption.  Figueiredo says the investigation is the first to look at whether genes modify the impact of food on health.

The study by Jane Figueiredo and colleagues is published in the journal PLoS Genetics.  

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid