Antioxidants shield against processed meat's carcinogenic effects

New research suggests antioxidants may protect women who eat a lot of processed meat from the higher risk of breast cancer associated with a baloney habit.

For women who simply cannot put down the bacon, there may be a shield against the increased breast cancer risk that comes with processed meat. French researchers believe antioxidants can play defense against the carcinogenic effect.

Sorbonne scientists found that trial participants in the highest quintile of processed meat consumption were 45 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those in the lowest quintile. But when they looked closely at antioxidant levels in those women, they found the increased breast cancer risk to be mostly in those processed meat eaters who did not take a low dose of antioxidants.

The study was based on data from the SU.VI. MAX study, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which some participants received a combination of low-dose antioxidants and some took a placebo. Researchers followed participants from 1994 through 2002.

The meat lovers in the study who also took antioxidants were at the same level of risk of breast cancer as those women who consumed the least meat. The meat lovers who didn’t take antioxidants were at a 146 percent increased risk of breast cancer.

There was no indication that taking antioxidants prevented the caloric consumption that comes with eating bacon, or other processed meat products.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology and noted on Another study linked increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids in women's diet to a reduced risk of breast cancer. That University of Minnesota study was published in Nutrition & Metabolism.

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