Hot dogs raise
risk of cancer,
study says

Pancreatic cancer was traced
in a large multiethnic group
in Hawaii and California

People who eat a lot of hot dogs, sausages and other processed meats greatly increase their risk of developing pancreatic cancer, according to a large study in Hawaii and California.


A new study finds that eating lots of sausage and other processed meats increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.

The study of nearly 200,000 people in the two states found that those who eat the largest amounts of processed meats have a 67 percent higher risk for pancreatic cancer than participants eating the lowest amount of that food.

"That is considerably high for dietary impact, and it's consistent," said Ute Nothlings, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii post-doctoral research fellow and lead investigator for the Multiethnic Cohort Study, in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. She reported the results yesterday at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Los Angeles.

Diets heavy in pork and red meat are not much healthier than processed meat, according to the findings. They increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by about 50 percent, compared with participants who ate less meat.

The American Meat Institute disputed the findings. "The larger body of evidence has shown that processed meats are a healthy part of a balanced diet," the trade group said in news release.

Nothlings said the multiethnic study showed that poultry, fish, dairy products and eggs appear safe. They showed no association with risks for cancer of the pancreas.

Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and University of Southern California researchers examined the links between diet and pancreatic cancer among 190,545 men and women of African-American, Japanese-American, Caucasian, Latino and native Hawaiian origin in Hawaii and Los Angeles.

The base-line investigation was from 1993 to 1996, and participants were followed for seven years, Nothlings said.

In that time there were 482 cases of pancreatic cancer.

She said the findings suggest meat preparation methods might be responsible for the association with pancreatic cancer, rather than fat or cholesterol content. Chemical reactions that occur from preparing processed meat can cause carcinogens, she said.

The all-American hot dog, if eaten often, can greatly increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study.

An analysis of fat and saturated fat consumption in the study showed a significant increase in risk for fats from meat, but not from dairy products, Nothlings said. This indicates fat and saturated fat are not likely to be connected with pancreatic cancer, but that is a subject for further analysis, she said.

Nothlings said the study is the largest of its kind to demonstrate a link between high, long-term consumption of processed meats and pancreatic cancer.

The Hawaii-Los Angeles study was large enough to obtain "statistically significant risk estimates that support this hypothesis," she said.

Meat consumption has been associated with pancreatic cancer in previous case-control studies, but results were inconsistent and data from prospective studies was lacking, she said.

The Multiethnic Cohort Study researchers adjusted their findings for age, smoking, history of diabetes, family history of pancreatic cancer and ethnicity.

Nothlings said the study has not changed her eating habits. "I favor poultry," she said. "Before I did the study, I also favored poultry."

Her advisor and senior author of the study is Dr. Laurence Kolonel, Etiology Program director and professor at the Cancer Research Center.

American Association for Cancer Research
Cancer Research Center of Hawaii

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