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Major study finds eating processed meat raises risk of breast cancer


A major study has found that eating processed meat, like bacon and sausages, may raise the risk of breast cancer in women. According to the review of studies involving more than one million women, eating higher levels of processed meat could result in a 9% greater risk of developing breast cancer. The research by a team from Harvard University’s T H Chan School of Public Health reviewed 15 related studies. It supports previous findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which suggest processed meats cause cancer. However, while the study has identified a potential link between processed meat and breast cancer, there is no clear evidence to show these types of foods are actually the cause. Furthermore, as outlined by the study authors in the International Journal of Cancer, their findings only relate to processed meat, not red meat. Bacon, sausages, salami, ham, hot dogs and corned beef are all examples of processed meat. And while it is not fully known why these foods are associated with a greater risk of cancer, it is thought that preservatives, like salt, may react with protein in the meat turning it carcinogenic. But rather than eliminating processed meat from your diet completely, the advice is simply to cut down. At present, current NHS guidelines recommend eating no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day. If you’re eating more than that on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to make some dietary changes.

Obesity set to overtake smoking as number one preventable cause of cancer in UK women, charity warns


By 2043, obesity will surpass smoking to be the biggest preventable cause of cancer in UK women. That’s one of the shocking new predictions to come out of a report by Cancer Research UK. At present, around 7% of cancers in women are linked to being overweight and obese, while 12% are said to be caused by smoking. But as the number of individuals who smoke continues to fall and obesity rates continue to rise, the UK cancer charity believes that gap will completely disappear over the next 25 years (assuming current trends continue). In fact, by 2035, the percentage of cancers caused by smoking and by carrying excess weight will almost be equal (25,000 cancer cases each year related to smoking vs. 23,000 related to being overweight). However, after just another eight years (by 2043), being overweight and obese is likely to be linked to even more cases of cancer in women than smoking. Interestingly, the cancer charity says that obesity will not overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer in men until some time later. The reason for this, though, is simply because more men than women smoke. While obesity is more prevalent among men too, it is thought to be a greater catalyst in women for developing cancer. Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, said the UK government must act now to stem the tide of obesity-related cancers. “That's why we are raising awareness of the link between cancer and obesity and calling for measures to protect children, like a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and for restrictions on price promotions of 'less healthy' products,” she said. Smoking-related cancers include: acute myeloid leukaemia lung bladder bowel cervical pancreatic stomach Obesity-related cancers include: bowel gall bladder kidney liver breast ovarian thyroid

A third of UK women too embarrassed to have a smear test, survey finds


Smear tests can prevent 75% of cervical cancers, yet young women in Britain are avoiding having them done because they are too embarrassed, a survey suggests. According to the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust survey of 2,017 British women, one-third delay having a smear test because they are too embarrassed. Of those women, 38% are concerned about smell, 35% are embarrassed about their body shape and 34% about the appearance of their vulva. A third of women surveyed also admitted they wouldn’t go for a smear test if they hadn’t waxed or shaved their bikini area. Worryingly, one in six (16%) women would rather miss a smear test appointment than a gym class and one in seven (14%) a waxing appointment. Robert Music, of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "Please don't let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test. "Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable." Every year, five million women in the UK are invited for a cervical smear test. One in four do not attend, despite cervical cancer being the most common type of cancer in women under 35. In fact, approximately 5,000 women’s lives are saved by cervical screening in the UK each year – a reality that highlights just how important these tests are. In Britain alone each year, a total of 220,000 women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities, which can be a sign of the existence of pre-cancerous cells.  

Scientists hail 'milestone' breast cancer breakthrough


A team of international scientists has managed to produce a near-perfect picture of the genetic events that precede and cause breast cancer in women. The study, which was published in the journal Nature, has been described by the study leader as a "milestone", which could potentially lead the way for new treatments and therapies to be developed to combat the disease. Cancer Research UK said that the findings of the study were an important stepping stone for developing new drugs for the treatment of breast cancer. In what has so far been the largest study of its kind - in which researchers analysed all 3 billion letters of people's genetic code, in 560 breast cancers - all of the errors which result in otherwise healthy breast tissue turning rogue were successfully unpicked. Prof Sir Mike Stratton, director of the Sanger Institute in Cambridge (which led the study), said it was a "milestone" in cancer research. He added the study's findings would allow universities, biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs that target the mutated genes and their proteins that cause breast cancer. "There are now many drugs that have been developed over the last 15 years against such targets which we know work," he said. One of the downsides of the study is that while the scientists have identified the mutations that cause breast cancer, the origins of many are still very much unknown. Nevertheless, many experts believe the study is a step closer to the development of personalised health care for breast cancer.