Meat intake not linked to breast cancer

NEW YORK Mon May 25, 2009 5:12pm EDT

Pork is cooked at a meat restaurant in Seoul REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Pork is cooked at a meat restaurant in Seoul

Credit: Reuters/Jo Yong-Hak

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A large study has found no link between eating meat -- total meat, red meat, processed meat, or meat cooked at high temperatures -- and the risk of breast cancer in older women.

Some studies have found that women who eat a lot of red and processed meat are more likely to develop breast cancer than other women; but other studies have found no such link. Saturated fat, found mainly in animal products, has been tied to higher breast cancer risk in some studies, but not in others.

The current findings stem from 120,755 postmenopausal women who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. The women provided information on what they ate and how often they ate certain foods when they entered the study between 1995 and 1996. They also provided information on meat-cooking methods.

Over the next 8 years, 3818 women developed breast cancer, Dr. Geoffrey C. Kabat of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, and colleagues report in the International Journal of Cancer.

According to the investigators, breast cancer risk was not associated with intake of total meat, red meat, white meat, processed meat, or meat cooked at high temperatures, or level of doneness of the meat.

The researchers note that the study included detailed information on meat preparation methods, and they conclude that their findings "do not support the hypothesis that a high intake of meat, red meat, processed meat, meat cooked at high temperatures, or meat mutagens is associated with increased risk of breast cancer."

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, May 15, 2009.

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