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Research links bacon consumption with 59 percent increase in bladder cancer

Thursday, November 30, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: bacon, cancer risk, bladder cancer

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(NewsTarget) People who eat bacon at least five times a week are at a 59 percent increased risk of bladder cancer over those who never eat the food, say Harvard scientists.

The team researched data on nearly 136,000 people, who were followed for up to 22 years. During that time, 808 of the subjects developed bladder cancer, a condition that afflicts more than 10,000 people in the U.K. every year. Bacon and other processed meats contain the known carcinogens nitrosamines and heterocyclic amines, the latter of which form when meat is cooked at high temperatures.

Chicken cooked with the skin on actually contains a smaller amount of heterocyclic amines than skinless chicken, and people who frequently consumed skinless chicken were at a 52 percent increased risk of bladder cancer. The researchers suggested that the heterocyclic amines may be to blame.

The report -- recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition -- also found that subjects who consumed bacon and other processed meats were more likely to smoke, consume more fat, take in fewer vitamins, and spend less time exercising.

The researchers pointed out that their work was not definitive, and more work needed to be done.

"The link between diet and cancer is complex and difficult to unravel but we know that eating lots of red and processed meat can increase our risk of some types of cancer," said Dr. Emma Knight, science information manager at Cancer Research U.K. "More research is needed before we can say for sure whether or not eating bacon in particular affects bladder cancer risk.

"For now, our advice remains to eat a balanced diet that is low in fat, processed and red meat, and rich in vegetables, fruit and fiber."

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