Red Meat May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer—Here’s What Decreases It, Researchers Say

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Red meat consumption may increase the risk of breast cancer, while poultry consumption may protect against breast cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Researchers analyzed dietary information from 42,012 women who were followed for an average of 7.6 years, according to a press release. During follow-up, 1,536 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed. Women who consumed the highest amount of red meat had a 23% higher risk compared with women who consumed the lowest amount; women who consumed the highest amount of poultry had a 15% lower risk than those with the lowest consumption. And women who substituted poultry for red meat saw a further decrease in risk.

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These results were found after the researchers controlled for other known breast cancer risk factors.

Dale P. Sandler, Ph.D., with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and lead author of the study, said: “Red meat has been identified as a probably carcinogen. 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. While the mechanism through which poultry consumption decreases breast cancer risk is not clear, our study does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change than can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer.”

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