World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has advised that cutting back on salty foods such as bacon, bread and breakfast cereals may reduce people’s risk of developing stomach cancer.
It wants people to eat less salt and for the content of food to be labelled more clearly.
Too much salt is bad for blood pressure and can lead to heart disease and stroke, but it can also cause cancer.
The recommended daily limit is 6 g, about a level teaspoonful, but the World Cancer Research Fund said people were eating 8.6 g a day.
WCRF estimated that 14% of cases, around 800, could be avoided if everyone stuck to their 6 g a day.
Too much salt is bad for blood pressure and can lead to heart disease and stroke, but it can also cause cancer
Kate Mendoza, head of health information at WCRF, said: “Stomach cancer is difficult to treat successfully because most cases are not caught until the disease is well-established.
“This places even greater emphasis on making lifestyle choices to prevent the disease occurring in the first place – such as cutting down on salt intake and eating more fruit and vegetables.”
Eating too much salt is not all about sprinkling it over fish and chips or Sunday lunch, the vast majority is already inside food.
It is why the WCRF has called for a “traffic-light” system for food labelling – red for high, amber for medium and green for low.
However, this has proved controversial with many food manufacturers and supermarkets preferring other ways of labelling food.
Swedish researchers at Karolinska Institute suggest there is a link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer.
Researchers said eating an extra 50g of processed meat, approximately one sausage, every day would increase a person’s risk by 19%.
But the chance of developing the rare cancer remains low.
The World Cancer Research Fund suggested the link may be down to obesity.
Eating red and processed meat has already been linked to bowel cancer. As a result the UK government recommended in 2011 that people eat no more than 70g a day.
Prof. Susanna Larsson, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute, said that links to other cancers were “quite controversial”.
She added: “It is known that eating meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer, it’s not so much known about other cancers.”
Swedish researchers at Karolinska Institute suggest there is a link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, analyzed data from 11 trials and 6,643 patients with pancreatic cancer.
It found that eating processed meat increased the risk of pancreatic cancer. The risk increased by 19% for every 50g someone added to their daily diet. Having an extra 100g would increase the risk by 38%.
Prof. Susanna Larsson said: “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.”
She recommended that people eat less red meat.
Cancer Research UK said the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in a lifetime was “comparatively small” – one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women.
Sara Hiom, the charity’s information director, said: “The jury is still out as to whether meat is a definite risk factor for pancreatic cancer and more large studies are needed to confirm this, but this new analysis suggests processed meat may be playing a role.”
However, she pointed out that smoking was a much greater risk factor.
The World Cancer Research Fund has advised people to completely avoid processed meat.
Dr. Rachel Thompson, the fund’s deputy head of science, said: “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.
“There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and this study may be an early indication of another factor behind the disease.
“Regardless of this latest research, we have already established a strong link between eating red and processed meat and your chances of developing bowel cancer, which is why WCRF recommends limiting intake of red meat to 500g cooked weight a week and avoid processed meat altogether.”