Red meat may increase breast cancer risk but chicken decrease it

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Results from a study by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina and the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health suggest that red meat consumption may increase the risk of breast cancer, whereas poultry consumption may be protective against breast cancer risk.

For the study, investigators analysed information on consumption of different types of meat and meat cooking practices from 42,012 women who were followed for an average of 7.6 years.

During follow-up, 1,536 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed. Increasing consumption of red meat was associated with increased risk of invasive breast cancer: women who consumed the highest amount of red meat had a 23% higher risk compared with women who consumed the lowest amount. Conversely, increasing consumption of poultry was associated with decreased invasive breast cancer risk: women with the highest consumption had a 15% lower risk than those with the lowest consumption. Breast cancer was reduced even further for women who substituted poultry for meat.

The findings did not change when analyses controlled for known breast cancer risk factors or potential confounding factors such as race, socioeconomic status, obesity, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and other dietary factors. No associations were observed for cooking practices or chemicals formed when cooking meat at high temperature.

“Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen. Our study adds further evidence that red meat consumption may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer whereas poultry was associated with decreased risk,” said senior author Dr Dale P Sandler, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “While the mechanism through which poultry consumption decreases breast cancer risk is not clear, our study does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change that can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer.”

Abstract
Meat consumption has been postulated to increase the risk of breast cancer, but this association has not been consistently seen. We examined the association between consumption of different types of meat, meat mutagens and incident invasive breast cancer. Information on consumption of different meat categories and meat cooking practice behaviors was obtained from 42,012 Sister Study participants who completed a Block 1998 Food Frequency Questionnaire at enrollment (2003–2009) and satisfied eligibility criteria. Exposure to meat type and meat mutagens was calculated, and associations with invasive breast cancer risk were estimated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression. During follow‐up (mean, 7.6 years), 1,536 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed at least 1 year after enrollment. Increasing consumption of red meat was associated with increased risk of invasive breast cancer (HRhighest vs. lowest quartile:1.23, 95% CI: 1.02–1.48, ptrend = 0.01). Conversely, increasing consumption of poultry was associated with decreased invasive breast cancer risk (HR highest vs. lowest quartile: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.72–1.00; ptrend = 0.03). In a substitution model with combined red meat and poultry consumption held constant, substituting poultry for red meat was associated with decreased invasive breast cancer risk (HR highest vs. lowest quartile of poultry consumption: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.58–0.89). No associations were observed for cooking practices, estimated heterocyclic amines or heme iron from red meat consumption with breast cancer risk. Red meat consumption may increase the risk of invasive breast cancer, whereas poultry consumption may be associated with reduced risk. Substituting poultry for red meat could reduce breast cancer risk.

Authors
Jamie J Lo, Yong‐Moon Mark Park, Rashmi Sinha, Dale P Sandler

Wiley material
International Journal of Cancer abstract


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