Processed meat consumption and risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay

Br J Cancer. 2012 Oct 23;107(9):1584-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.433. Epub 2012 Sep 25.


Background: The role of processed meat in the aetiology of several cancers was explored in detail.

Methods: In the time period 1996-2004, a multisite case-control study was conducted in Montevideo, Uruguay. The study included 6 060 participants (3 528 cases and 2 532 controls) corresponding to cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, larynx, lung, female breast, prostate, urinary bladder, and kidney (renal cell carcinoma only).

Results: The highest odds ratios (ORs) were positively associated with cancers of the colon, rectum, stomach, oesophagus, and lung. With the exception of renal cell carcinoma, the remaining cancer sites were significantly associated with elevated risks for processed meat consumption. Furthermore, mortadella, salami, hot dog, ham, and salted meat were strongly associated with risk of several cancer sites.

Conclusion: It could be concluded that processed meat intake could be a powerful multiorgan carcinogen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Meat Products / adverse effects
  • Meat Products / analysis
  • Meat Products / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uruguay / epidemiology