Researchers from Sweden analysed the data from 11 trials and almost 7,000 patients with the disease and found that eating just 50g extra of processed meat per day can increase risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 19 per cent.
However the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers, remains comparatively low: according to Cancer Research UK, one in 77 men will get it in their lifetime, and one in 79 women.
The UK government already recommends people limit their daily intake of processed meat such as sausages and bacon to 70g a day, after a link was found to bowel cancer.
“Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates. So as well as diagnosing it early, it’s important to understand what can increase the risk of this disease,” said the study lead, Professor Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said the report may be an early indication of another risk factor for pancreatic cancer. It says there is also “strong evidence” that being overweight or obese increases the risk of getting the disease and already advises people to cut processed meats out of their diets entirely.
“We will be re-examining the factors behind pancreatic cancer later this year as part of our Continuous Update Project, which should tell us more about the relationship between cancer of the pancreas and processed meat,” said WCRF deputy head of science Rachel Thompson.