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Red meat causes breast cancer?

4th April 2007

British researchers have found a link between red meat and breast cancer.

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The team from the University of Leeds has published research suggesting that post-menopausal women who eat red and processed meats have a significantly increased chance of developing breast cancer.  The researchers monitored 35,000 women over seven years and found that older women who eat just one 2oz (57g) portion of red meat daily have a 56% increased risk of contracting the disease than those who abstain completely.  Women eating processed meats such as ham, bacon and sausages have a 64% greater chance of developing breast cancer than those who avoid these foods.  The study also found that younger women who have a diet that is high in fibre halve their breast cancer risk.

It is thought that red meat, which is high in saturated fat, has an influence on the amount of cholesterol the body produces which, in turn, has a direct effect on oestrogen levels which have been linked to breast cancer. Experts also suspect that cooking meat at high temperatures may have a carcinogenic effect on the body.

Previous research into a link between red meat consumption and breast cancer has proved inconclusive and experts are warning that it is difficult to identify the effect of specific parts of the diet on a person’s risk of cancer.  However, Dr Alexis Willett from Breakthrough Breast Cancer said, “Experts estimate that approximately 30% of all cancers in Western countries are linked to diet."

 

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