Women who consume cured meats and other preserved foods are more likely to develop breast cancer, a new study from local researchers in Hong Kong suggests.
The study, published in Cancer Prevention Research on Aug. 1, looked into how preserved foods that may contain nitrate and nitrite might increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
The research involved 1,307 women with breast cancer and 1,050 age-matched controls without cancer, all of whom were from Hong Kong.
The women, who were recruited from three hospitals, were asked to answer a standardized questionnaire to provide their dietary information, such as the amount of preserved foods they consume. These foods may include cured meat, pickled vegetables, canned meat and canned fruit/vegetables.
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To analyze the risk of breast cancer in connection to women’s consumption of preserved food, the researchers compared the probability of developing breast cancer between the two groups based on their responses to the questionnaire. They also stratified the samples according to their breast cancer biology subtypes.
Based on the findings, consuming cured meat resulted in a 32 percent increase among the women in their risk of developing breast cancer. The researchers deemed the association significant.
More notably, the risk increased by more than double among women who consumed cured meat at least once per week compared to those who did not.
Those who ate canned fruits/vegetables at least once per week also had a higher risk of breast cancer, particularly for the HER2-positive subtypes. However, the association for this result was deemed attenuated and became somewhat borderline significant after the researchers adjusted the confounders.
According to the researchers, while there is reason to believe that cured meat consumption suggests a potential novel risk factor for breast cancer, larger studies are needed to further validate their findings.
Hams, cured sausages and salty ducks are among the favorite types of cured meats in many Chinese and other Asian households. Many popular recipes incorporate these types of meat to add a rich flavor to the dishes.