Swapping red meat for poultry associated with reduced breast cancer risk

Henrietta Brewer
August 10, 2019

Experts therefore regarded that a high consumption of poultry resulted into decreased invasive breast cancer risk, whereas women with the highest consumption of poultry were at 15% lower risk in comparison to those who consumed less poultry.

'Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen, ' study author Dr Dale Sandler said. The participants also completed the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire at the start of the study and again at a follow-up evaluation roughly 7.5 years after the first round.

Prof Paul Pharoah, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at Cambridge University, said: "Weak associations were found between red meat consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer and between poultry consumption and a decreased risk of breast cancer". Those who ate the most red meat had a 23 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who ate the least, according to a study of 42,000 women.

The researchers also found that women who switched from red meat to poultry lowered their risk - but they do not know why.


Some 1,536 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed during the study.

Swapping beef, lamb and pork for chicken could slash a woman's risk of breast cancer, research suggests.

Clare Shaw, a consultant dietician in oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London, U.K., said the research study is of "good quality", but cautioned against interpreting the findings as a causal relationship between red meat consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer.

Though previous research has found that eating grilled meats may increase cancer risk, Sandler's team found no association with cancer based on the chemicals released when meats were cooked over high heat.


The researchers said their findings didn't change when they controlled for known breast cancer risks or potential confounding factors such as race, socioeconomic status, obesity, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and other dietary aspects.

One in eight women in the United States and United Kingdom will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, statistics show.

She said it would be hard to prove definitively that red meat causes breast cancer, though dietary intervention studies such as randomized trials could help.

However, the "association has not been consistently seen", the researchers wrote in the International Journal of Cancer. Participants all had a family history of breast cancer and filled in surveys about their eating habits.


Breast cancer attacks the breasts but the left breast is the one that is most attacked.

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