The World Cancer Research Fund International recently published a study linking alcohol and processed meat to an increased risk of stomach cancer.The report looked at the data from 89 different studies, which tested a total of17 million people. But before you permanently swear off booze and bacon (gasp!), let’s put some of the study’s statements into perspective.
1. “There is strong evidence that consuming approximately three or more alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of stomach cancer.”
But they didn’t find the same correlation in people who had one or two drinks per day, nor does the study specify how much your risk increases when you have three (or more). So yes, you can still enjoy a beer after work, but you probably shouldn’t down the whole six-pack. (Keep in mind one standard drink is roughly 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits.)
2. “There is strong evidence that consuming processed meat increases the risk of stomach cancer.”
The study concluded that for every 50 grams of processed meat you consume per day, your risk of stomach cancer increases by 18 percent. For reference, processed meat includes ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, and hot dogs, and 50 grams equates to roughly one hot dog or two to three strips of bacon.
But don’t free all the pigs just yet. If you were to limit your processed meat intake to one hot dog per week, your estimated risk of cancer would increase by only 2.6 percent, according to the report. As with most things, moderation is key.
However, there is one statement from the study that backs an absolute takeaway: “Smoking is a cause of stomach cancer. It is estimated that 11 percent of cases worldwide are attributable to tobacco use.” This is pretty straightforward: Smoking is bad for you. If you’re ready to kick the habit, there are plenty of resources out there to help.