Pancreatic cancer is no joke.
Because it’s difficult to spot in the early stages, the disease is one of the most deadly: Only 1% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK survive their disease for ten years or more (1).
And survival rates in the the Unites States aren’t any better.
This is because the early warning signs of the disease are easily mistaken for everyday health complaints.
Processed Meat – The Biggest CulpritFor a long time, scientists believed the disease was caused by excess body weight, pancreatitis, diabetes and smoking, which raises cancer risk by 74% (3).
However new research has discovered that meat products may also be to blame.
A recent study published in BMC medicine found that a high consumption of red meat was related to higher all-cause mortality, including death by cancer. Processed meat had the highest association to cancer and cardiovascular disease while poultry had little to no association (4).
And this isn’t the first study to link meat consumption to cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Increases With Every 2 Strips of Bacon You Eat:A study funded by the Swedish Cancer Foundation examined 11 studies and case reports on more than 6,000 pancreatic cancer patients and found that every 50 grams of processed meat – roughly one sausage or two strips of bacon – you eat daily increases your risk of pancreatic cancer.
Eating around 150 grams of process meat a day, makes you 57% more likely to suffer from pancreatic cancer (5).
Although researchers still aren’t sure what mechanisms are to blame, nitrates and nitrites have often come under fire. Not because they’re toxic but because they have to potential to be.
What Are Nitrates?Nitrates are naturally-occurring compounds found in the soil, air and water. They act as a preservative and color enhancer in meat products.
The body uses nitrates to kill harmful bacteria (like salmonella) in the digestive tract, facilitate cell signaling, dilate blood vessels and increase energy (6,7,8,9).
The problem is, when nitrates found in meat are exposed to high heat from cooking, they turn into compounds called nitrosamines. This can only happen when the right amino acids are present.
These carcinogenic compounds are the real danger. They’re often found in cured meats, beer, some cheeses, nonfat dry milk, and processed fish (10).
In fact, these foods are also linked to increased risk of bladder, esophageal and stomach cancer (11).
Another popular nitrate-full food, hot dogs, is linked to a 700% increased risk of childhood leukemia (12).
Eat Foods Rich In Vitamin CWhile the best way to avoid these carcinogenic compounds is to cut out processed meats and dairy products all together, you can minimize your exposure to nitrosamines by eating vitamin C-rich foods during nitrate-rich meals to prevent nitrosamine from forming in the first place (13).
You can also swap bacon for salted pork belly, kept frozen and heated slowly over low heat or go to your local butcher for nitrate-free sausages.