A common additive used in bacon and ham could fuel the growth of cancers, research suggests. High doses of inorganic phosphate salts – which are used to enhance the texture and flavour of processed meats – increased the size of tumours in mice.
The chemicals are also added to bread, cakes and cheeses. The research will increase concerns that additives used to boost food industry profits could be contributing to cancer rates.
Eating large amounts of processed meats has already been linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer. The latest findings come from a Seoul National University study into the impact of phosphates on mice which were bred to be vulnerable to lung cancer.
The creatures were fed a diet containing 0.5 or 1 per cent phosphate – roughly equivalent to the amount found in human diets.
Those on the high additive diet developed tumours more quickly than those on a conventional diet, the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.