Italian fennel salami on a fresh roll? Splendid! Smoked ham? Yummy! A nice red steak straight from the pan? Wonderful! As tasty as sausage and meat can be for many people, it is unhealthy to eat all of it frequently. The World Cancer Agency classifies processed meats such as sausage or bacon as carcinogenic. Red meat is considered “probably carcinogenic.”

However, the experts rely on epidemiological studies that compare people who eat meat with those who don’t. It is noticeable that more people in the meat group suffer from different types of cancer such as colon cancer or breast cancer.

The problem with these studies is that they do not show that the meat itself is the cause. Perhaps it is due to other factors. Passionate meat eaters have been shown to eat less healthily than those who avoid sausage, roasts or schnitzel or eat very little of them.

This background should be kept in mind when looking at the results of a new meta-evaluation of twelve studies on this topic. Accordingly, smokers and former smokers in particular have an additional increased risk of developing lung cancer if they eat a lot of red meat and sausage. Smokers bear the greatest risk of lung cancer anyway, because smoking is and remains the most important risk factor for this disease. However, the meta-study now shows that nutrition can also obviously play a role when it comes to lung cancer.

According to the “German Health Portal” website, two diets were considered for the meta-study: on the one hand, the typical “Western” diet (high proportion of processed and red meat, eggs, refined grains and sweets) and on the other hand, a healthy diet that includes a high proportion of vegetables , fruit, poultry, whole grain products and fish.

Result: The people who ate a significantly less healthy diet, as described in the first group, had a significantly increased risk of developing lung cancer. This primarily applies to smokers or people who have previously smoked.

Is it directly due to higher meat consumption? This cannot be clearly proven due to the methodological difficulties already mentioned. The researchers suspect that the high proportion of antioxidants that comes with a healthy diet (vegetables!) counteract the inflammatory effects of smoking, which are crucial for the development of lung cancer. But of course, many other influences, such as genetic factors, also have an impact on the development of cancer. The study shows above all: smokers or former smokers should pay particular attention to what they eat – also with regard to their risk of lung cancer.