We have seen first-hand how the free services and information from the American Cancer Society in Southern Arizona have made a difference in the lives of women in our community who have been stricken with breast cancer.
The World Health Organization has declared red meat a probable carcinogen, and this new study adds breast cancer to a list of cancers linked to red meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb and some game. "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", according to senior author Dale P. Sandler, PhD, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
To examine the association between breast cancer and meat consumption, the researchers collected data from 42,012 sister study participants who completed a Block 1998 Food Frequency Questionnaire at enrollment.
The link between red meat and breast cancer remained even when researchers took into account other factors associated with the disease. The study results also concluded that women who consumed high amounts of red meat were prone to 23% higher risk of cancer than women whose diet had lesser portions of red meat.
Invasive breast cancer is defined as malignant cells that grow through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue.
After around seven years, 1,536 cases of invasive breast cancer had been diagnosed among the participants.
"Our study does, however, provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may help reduce the incidence of breast cancer", Sandler said.
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.
On the other hand, while associate professor Mieke Van Hemelrijck at King's College London also stressed the study showed an association and not causation, she said it could help to generate further hypothesis around how breast cancer develops.
One expert was quick to point out, however, the study only looked at women with a family history of breast cancer.
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.
In contrast, those who ate more chicken and turkey saw their breast cancer chances plummet by 15 percent.
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