Doctors have long warned that a diet loaded with red meat is linked to cancers including those of the colon and pancreas, but there has been less evidence for its role in breast cancer.
Harvard researchers say replacing red meat with a combination of beans, peas and lentils, poultry, nuts, and fish may reduce the risk in younger women.
Scientists suspect proteins in red meat speed up cell division and tumour growth; chemicals such as nitrates in processed meats are already classified as probable carcinogens.
The study found that a higher intake of red meat products during early adulthood was associated with a 22% increased risk of breast cancer.
Conversely, a higher intake of poultry during early adulthood was associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Overall, this cohort study found that a higher intake of red meat was associated with higher risk of breast cancer among a large group of US female nurses. The studies strengths include the large population size, the study’s prospective nature and the fact there was a relatively long follow-up period (20 years).
The researchers note limitations to their study, which should be considered when interpreting the findings. These include the fact that:
- the participants were predominantly white, educated US females, so caution should be taken when generalising the findings to other races or ethnic groups
- dietary intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire, which relied on participants recalling their dietary intake over the previous year. It is likely that participants did not accurately report their dietary intake, which introduces some measurement bias
- the researchers adjusted their results for multiple confounders (e.g. family history of breast cancer and smoking); however, it is possible that other factors, which the researchers did not take into account, could have affected results
- the findings related to substituting foods are estimates only and may not reflect actual effects of protein substitution
There is accumulating evidence regarding the link between red meat and cancer see appleadayrx.net
Conversely there is strong research evidence that plant-based diets reverse several diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and Dean Ornish’s work is highly indicative that perhaps reducing meat consumption is a requirement for good health.