If you love a big breakfast complete with bacon, sausage, or ham from time to time, you’re in good company, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy your meal. But if those foods are a regular part of your diet – if any type of processed meat is a regular part of your diet – you should consider cutting back.
A new study links regular processed meat consumption with increased breast cancer risk, almost exactly 3 years after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified processed meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Regularly consuming processed meat was linked with a 9% increased risk of breast cancer, according to the paper, an analysis of previous studies looking at more than 1.2 million women.
Processed meats are meats that have been preserved by smoking, curing, or salting.
In the study, high consumption of processed meat was defined as about 25 to 30 grams a day, on average. 
The authors wrote: 
“The systematic review and meta-analysis study reports significant positive associations between processed meat consumption with risk of breast cancer.”
Lead author Dr. Maryam Farvid, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, added:
“Cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer.”
But the researchers said if you don’t want to cut processed meats out of your diet entirely, you don’t have to. Simply reducing your intake is sufficient.
Great news for bacon lovers.
And you should know that the paper leaves “many questions unanswered,” according to Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the UK’s Open University. The study cannot prove a causal relationship between processed meat consumption and breast cancer.
Conway said he “can’t tell you how many more cases of breast cancer there would be if everyone ate an extra bacon sandwich a day – this research just can’t give that information.”
The previous studies used in the meta-analysis produced “inconsistent” results when it came to linking processed meat and breast cancer. And until now, processed meat had been mostly linked to cancer of the kidneys, pancreas, and prostate.
Read: Red Meat Could Decrease Life Expectancy for Those with Colon Cancer
The mechanism behind the link between processed meat and breast cancer is unclear, but Farvid said the preservatives in meat might be one cause for the link.
“My recommendation is that it’s good for women to cut down on processed meat.”
The analysis appears in the International Journal of Cancer.