Taken from newsletter@FoodNavigator-USA.com
4/4/2007 - High consumption of red and processed meat may double the risk of breast cancer amongst women of a certain age, suggests a new study from England.
In a study of 35,372 women aged 35 to 69, it was found that high meat intake, particularly red meat and processed meats, was associated with a significant increase in the risk of breast cancer amongst pre- and post-menopausal women.
The researchers, led by Professor Janet Cade from the University of Leeds, suggest that the high saturated fat content of the meat may be behind the apparent effects, with this kind of fat linked to cholesterol production, which in turn is a precursor for the female hormone oestrogen, which as been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
"Women generally consuming most total meat, red and processed meat were at the highest increased risk compared with non-meat consumers, though red and processed meat were only statistically significant postmenopausally," they wrote.
However, experts have pointed out that other research linking meat consumption to breast cancer have been inconclusive, and that the disease is based on many other factors.
Over one million women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, with the highest incidences in the US and the Netherlands. China has the lowest incidence and mortality rate of the disease.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 13 percent of American women will develop breast cancer during their lives.
The UK Women's Cohort Study (UKWCS) assessed dietary intakes of the women using a self-administered 217-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Over a mean follow-up of eight years, 395 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in post-menopausal women and 283 cases in pre-menopausal women.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, reports that the associations between red meat and processed meat intake was most striking for post-menopausal women, with highest intake of red meat (greater than 57 grams per day) at a 56 per cent increased risk of breast cancer, and highest intake of processed meat (more than 20 grams per day of meat such as bacon, sausages, ham or pies) associated with a 64 per cent greater risk of breast cancer, compared to those who ate none.
Pre-menopausal women with a daily intake of more than 20 grams per day of processed meat were associated with a 20 per cent increase in breast cancer risk.
Commenting independently on the study, Dr Alexis Willett, senior policy officer from British charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said: "This is an interesting study but because we eat a variety of foods it is difficult to separate out the specific effect of red meat on breast cancer risk. Differences in other factors such as age, weight and level of exercise were also found between red meat eaters and non-red meat eaters in this study and may also play a part in the risk of developing breast cancer.
"Previous research studying red meat and breast cancer risk have been inconclusive. However, experts estimate that approximately 30 per cent of all cancers in Western countries are linked to diet. Breakthrough encourages all women to eat a balanced diet, limit alcohol consumption, exercise regularly and keep a healthy weight in order to maintain general good health.
"Responding on behalf of the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC), Phil Saunders told FoodNavigator.com that this study found that participants were at an increased risk when eating about 150 grams per day, which is about twice as much as the national average in the UK (about 80 grams)."Cancer is multi-factorial and this commission has always maintained that meat is part of a healthy diet and an important food group, but balance is important," he said.
Source: British Journal of CancerVolume 96, Pages 1139-1146"Meat consumption and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women's Cohort Study"Authors E.F. Taylor, V.J. Burley, D.C. Greenwood, J.E. Cade
Is this link really suprising considering that most of the red meat consumed is non organic and therefore pumped full of chemicals to harness greater milk yeilds! Hormones consumed via meat are bound to effect our own bodies hormones including oestrogen which is linked to breast cancer. Anyone else have a comment?