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Bacon and alcohol ‘increase stomach cancer risk’

One in 67 British men and one in 135 women statistically likely to develop condition

Matt Payton
Tuesday 15 November 2022 12:29 GMT
Eating two rashers a day threatens to increase risk of stomach cancer
Eating two rashers a day threatens to increase risk of stomach cancer (PA)

Eating processed meat such as bacon and drinking alcohol has been “strongly” linked to stomach cancer.

People eating 50g of processed meat a day, equivalent to two rashers of bacon, was found to have an increased risk of encouraging the condition, according to a study from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) first published in 2016.

The research found that those who drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day are also at increased risk.

However, there is evidence that eating citrus fruits may help to reduce that risk, experts say.

The report defines processed meat as “meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives. Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages.”

Experts also pointed to “strong evidence” that consuming foods preserved by salting increased the risk, such as pickled vegetables and salted or dried fish.

Over 7,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year in the UK, leading to around 5,000 deaths.

Eighty per cent of people are diagnosed once the cancer has started spreading around their body.

According to Cancer Research UK, doctors believe a patient is doing well if they are still alive two years after being diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer.

Men are twice as likely to contract stomach cancer than women, with the cancer more likely to occur in adults.

Processed meat was already linked to bowel cancer while being overweight or obese is linked to 10 different cancers.

The scientists also reported there was “some evidence that suggests consuming grilled or barbecued meat and fish increases the risk of stomach cancer”.

Dr Rachel Thompson, head of research interpretation at the WCRF, said at the time of the report’s publication: “This evidence gives us a clearer picture.

“We can now say, for the first time, that drinking alcohol, eating processed meat and being overweight or obese can all increase the risk of developing stomach cancers.

“These findings will hopefully help people better understand what increases their risk of cancer so that they can make informed decisions about their lifestyles choices.”

In the UK, the lifetime risk of stomach cancer stands at one in 67 for men and one in 135 for women.

This article was originally published on 21 April 2016

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