Eating red or processed meat can increase colon cancer risk

High intake of red and processed meat over a long period of time is associated with an increased risk of certain types of colon cancer, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Although previous studies have linked meat consumption and colorectal cancer, the findings were not consistent and few studies evaluated long-term consumption. For this study, approximately 150,000 adults, aged 50 to 74 years, filled out questionnaires about their eating habits and health status. People who reported high consumption (approximately nine times per week) of red and processed meat on both questionnaires had an approximately 50 percent higher risk of colon cancer. Red meat was defined as beef, pork and lamb, and processed meat included cold cuts and bacon.

“Having a steak to celebrate is not really going to affect your risk of colon cancer,” noted American Cancer Society researcher Michael Thun, M.D., MS, “but if meat is a central component of your diet over a longer period of time, that could well affect your risk.”

The study also found that eating chicken and fish was related to lower risk of colon cancer. The Medical Society of the State of New York is dedicated to preventing or reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases.