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Stay away from processed meat

Women who eat a lot of processed meats, such as salami and hot dogs, are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer, according to a new Australian study.

health and fitness Updated: Apr 22, 2010 14:45 IST
Howard Wolinsky

Women who eat a lot of processed meats, such as salami and hot dogs, are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer, according to a new Australian study. At the same time, those who eat a lot of fish have a lower risk of the deadly tumours, Dr Penny Webb of Gynaecological Cancers Group at Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues found.

In their report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the team also found no link between red meat and the cancer, and just a slightly lower risk among women who consumed large amounts of poultry. “This suggests that by reducing the intake of processed meats and increasing the intake of poultry and fish, women may also reduce their risk of ovarian cancer,” Webb and colleagues write.

Researchers re-analysed data from older studies from more than 2,000 women with ovarian cancer and 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 per cent higher risk of ovarian cancer than those who ate one or fewer servings per week. Women consuming four or more fish meals per week had 24 per cent less risk of ovarian cancer than those who ate less than one fish meal per week. The absolute risk difference, however, was quite small. 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 per cent.