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Hot dogs hike cancer risk: Swedish study

TT/The Local/cg · 14 Jan 2012, 11:29

Published: 14 Jan 2012 11:29 GMT+01:00

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The more you eat, the greater the risk. In the study, the risk increased by nearly 20 percent for every 50 grammes of processed meat eaten daily.

50 grams is roughly one hot dog, meaning that a person who eats five hot dogs every day has doubled his or her risk of falling ill.

Pancreatic cancer is unusual, however, so the risk remains relatively low.

The meat itself in products such as bacon, hot dogs and patés isn't what causes cancer. Instead, the processed meats' additives and preservatives, nitrites in particular, turned out to be the culprits.

Nitrites occur in most processed meats. Apart from increasing shelf life, nitrites protect against botulism, a deadly form of food poisoning.

On the other hand, nitrites can also be converted to nitrosamines, a source of cancer.

"The risk depends on the dosage. The more you eat, the greater the risk," Susanna Larsson, associate epidemiology professor at Karolinska Institute, told news agency TT.

The study she presented in the British Journal of Cancer is a meta analysis, combining seven other studies.

"Since those studies were well-made, I consider our study to be highly reliable."

Larsson emphasized that pancreatic cancer is a relatively unusual disease. 900 Swedes are diagnosed annually, the majority of which are over 65 years old.

On the other hand, the cancer is very difficult to treat.

"It's among the worst kind you can get."

Larsson has shown in a previous study that processed meats also increase the risk of a far more common form of cancer, gastrointestinal cancer.

Story continues below…

"Anyone who eats a lot of processed meat should probably reduce their consumption."

Per Ola Damerud, toxicologist at the National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), told TT that it's difficult to radically change the agency's recommendations from one single study. Further studies showing the same risks need to be undertaken and evaluated.

He does provide some advice on the matter, however.

"Today we advise to eat a varied diet, and not too much of salt or saturated fats. And all that means that you should avoid eating too much of these products. However, at the moment we don't have any specific advice on processed meats," said Damerud.

TT/The Local/cg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:25 January 14, 2012 by Stitched
What meat, today, ISN'T processed? Think how popular sliced deli meat is on the traditional Swedish breakfast table/hotel buffet.
12:58 January 14, 2012 by gabeltoon
Try eating OAT PORRIDGE it provides all the nutrition one needs in a breakfast meal.
13:06 January 14, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Would like to see a table of highest to lowest known cancer risks of all foods and food substances (like fat), along with a quantification of that risk, on some actively maintained website. If anyone knows of a good one, that is not merely a hidden advertisement for chinese herbal supplements, please post.

If Nitrites are the highest item on the cancer risk list that has not yet been popularized, then if this is sufficiently highlighted in the media, it may prompt the food industry to introduce healthier alternatives, and packaging that indicates this for health conscious consumers.
14:28 January 14, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
If you stopped eating things because they MAY be harmful, you might as well stop eating altogether.

The Swedes have a word for it 'lagom' - all things in moderation
17:09 January 14, 2012 by HenryPollard
People who eat processed meat don't tend to care too much about health.

This article will only make them start shopping for a double-wide coffin a few years sooner.
18:20 January 14, 2012 by JoeE
Correlation vs causation. Most health studies are too simplified to be useful to anyone other than those promoting their biased views. There are too many variables that aren't covered. If we're talking about very small increases in risk than we must remember that those who eat lots of cheap processed meat products are probably also not exercising much, eating other low quality food products devoid of real nutrients, etc. I'd be cautious to put much trust into studies such as these.
20:11 January 14, 2012 by Javlaengelsman
I've read the same reports about processed/smoked meats 20years ago so this is not news. You can't eat this, you can't eat that, oh no, it's ok, you can now, a small Aspirin is reccomened, then it's not, then it is again, now it's not, don't drink more than x amount of alcohol a week (but the more you drink the LESS likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke). If you are the kind of person who takes much of these continously contradictive negative reports that promote a prohitive view of life the I would think that your live would be so sad, so uninteresting, so flat, dull & devoid of all things fun, that you are far more likely to have suicide as most likely to bring about your demise because of undiagnosed anxiehty depression... Think about that.
21:38 January 14, 2012 by TheWatchman
I've heard about this even in Canada. My mother would never let me have hot dogs because she said it increases your chances of developing cancer. I never really understood why but it's because of preservatives such as nitrite and other additives. A Canadian hot dog company marketed on this and tried to claim that their product was free of preservatives and additives but inside they had bits of celery extract which is a source of nitrites and nitrates. If anyone is interested here is the link:


It is extremely deceptive and wrong I think.
02:12 January 15, 2012 by blursd
Truly horrible news for Danes everywhere ...

Next thing they'll be saying Tuborg causes Alzheimers Disease.
11:17 January 17, 2012 by starson
It was interesting to see which components of the meat were to blame, based on the NIH/AARP study: http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/largest-study-ever/
11:18 January 23, 2012 by johnny1939
Here we are again "lagom" does it!!!!!
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