Salt, processed meat and the risk of cancer

Eur J Cancer Prev. 2011 Mar;20(2):132-9. doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0b013e3283429e32.


This study assesses the association between salt added at the table, processed meat and the risk of various cancers. Mailed questionnaires were completed by 19 732 patients with histologically confirmed incident cancer of the stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, breast, ovary, prostate, testis, kidney, bladder, brain, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or leukaemia, and 5039 population controls,between 1994 and 1997. Measurement included information on socioeconomic status, lifestyle habits and diet. A 69-item food frequency questionnaire provided data on eating habits 2 years before the study. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were derived through unconditional logistic regression. Compared with never adding salt at the table, always or often adding salt at the table was associated with an increased risk of stomach, lung, testicular and bladder cancer. Processed meat was significantly related to the risk of the stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, prostate, testis, kidney and bladder cancer and leukaemia; the odds ratios for the highest quartile ranged from 1.3 to 1.7. The findings add to the evidence that high consumption of salt and processed meat may play a role in the aetiology of several cancers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Sodium Chloride / adverse effects*
  • Sodium, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Sodium Chloride