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Processed Meats Linked To Higher Breast Cancer Risk

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - More evidence that cutting out processed red meats is good for your health.

New research shows a link between things like bacon, and sausage, and breast cancer risk.

Angela Thomas was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. The 34-year-old is now cancer-free and says she's made major lifestyle changes.

"After my diagnosis, it was more of a priority to incorporate more greens with every meal, I started to cut out all processed meat," she said.

New research in the International Journal Of Cancer looked at 15 previous studies and found eating processed meats was associated with a nearly 10 percent higher breast cancer risk.

"When we look at all the evidence together there is an increased risk of breast cancer with diets high in processed meats," said Dr. Mariana Stern with University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

Processed meats like bacon, ham, sausage, and deli meats including turkey are altered to improve flavor and preservation. In 2015, the World Health Organization classified processed meat as a carcinogen because studies show it can increase the risk for colorectal and potentially stomach cancers.

Stern, who authored the study, says avoiding processed meats is key and red meat should be limited to about 18 ounces per week.

"You should also limit your consumption of alcohol and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat," she said.

Thomas grew up in Louisiana eating a meat-heavy diet. She's now trying to convince friends and family to make changes.

"Once you get new information and knowledge, you want to share so you're not doing the journey alone," she said.

She hopes her choices will keep her cancer from coming back.

The American Cancer Society recommends physical activity at least 30 minutes per day for breast cancer prevention.

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