Processed meat ups risk of ovarian cancer

April 22, 2010 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Processed meat ups risk of ovarian cancer
New study findings from Australian researchers have found that women who eat a lot of processed meats, such as salami and hot dogs, are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

The study also reports that women who eat a lot of fish have a lower risk of the deadly tumors, and also found no link between red meat consumption and ovarian cancer.

To study the link between process meat intake and cancer risk, researchers re-analyzed data from older studies from more than 2,000 women with ovarian cancer and nearly 2,200 without it who were asked about their diets.

They found that women who ate four or more servings per week of processed meat had an 18 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than those who ate one or fewer servings per week.

Also, women consuming four or more fish meals per week had 24 percent less risk of ovarian cancer than those who ate less than one fish meal per week.

While the difference sounds substantial, researchers warn that the absolute risk difference, however, was quite small.  For example, in Australia, the risk of developing ovarian cancer before the age of 75 for a woman who eats a lot of processed meat is about 1 percent, compared to about 0.8 percent for those who eat little processed meat.

It's unclear why processed meats and fish would have any effect on ovarian cancer.  While theories abound, there isn't any good evidence as of yet.  It's thought that processed meat contains compounds that could damage cells and thereby cause cancer. While the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish are thought have anti-cancer properties.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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