Do Processed Meats Cause Cancer?

Researchers recently analyzed a group of data involving 1.2 million women and found that regularly eating processed meats could increase the risk of developing breast cancer, as well as other types of cancer. However, more research is needed to determine the magnitude of the potential increased risk, and experts are not currently suggesting that people should remove all red meat from their diets

What Is Processed Meat?

Any meat that has been smoked, cured, or salted is considered processed. Examples of processed meat include:

  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Ham
  • Hot dogs
  • Salami
  • Corned beef
  • Beef jerky

According to the World Health Organization, processed meat is a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning there is sufficient evidence showing that it can cause cancer in humans. Red meats are currently named a Group 2A carcinogen, meaning that the probably contribute to cancer in humans, but there is still limited evidence.

Healthier Alternatives

While researchers and health experts alike do not suggest that we need to eliminate all processed and red meats from our diets, limiting these foods can have a variety of health benefits, including possibly lowering the risk of cancer.

Some healthier alternatives to deli meats include:

  • Canned tuna
  • Grilled chicken
  • Hummus
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Avocado
  • Peanut butter

In Summary

Additional research needs to be done to better understand the link between eating processed meats and breast cancer risk. But we do know that there is a strong connection between diet and our health, and making healthy food choices can have a profound impact on our overall health and wellness.