Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in England, with about 23,000 diagnoses per year. Excessive consumption of red meat is one of the main causes. A study, conducted at the University of Oxford (UK), warns by showing that even a modest intake of red meat can increase the risk of intestinal cancer incidence. The research results were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (June 2019).
EVEN A LITTLE RED MEAT INCREASES THE INCIDENCE BY 20%
Previously, numerous scientific studies have already been conducted on the association of the development of bowel cancer and the consumption of red meat. Investigations mainly related to diets relating to the 90s and before. The new Oxford study (funded in part by Cancer Research UK) provides updated data and sheds light, with a more current view, on the dangers of red meat consumption today.
The study monitored, for an average of 5.7 years (from 2006 to 2010) a sample of almost 500 thousand individuals of both sexes, aged between 40 and 69 years. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires on how often they ate red meat, processed and otherwise. The results indicated that even small amounts of meat (be it roast beef, lamb, ham, bacon or other) consumed every day can increase the chance of developing intestinal cancer by 20%. That is, of the 475,581 people who participated in the study, 2609 developed colon cancer.
FIBERS AND CEREALS DECREASE THE RISKS FOR INTESTINAL CANCER
Data analysis revealed that subjects who reported an average consumption of 76 g (2.7 oz) per day of red and processed meat reported a 20% greater risk for colorectal cancer, compared to those who stated to consume 21 g (0.7 oz) per day. In particular, in regard to processed meat only, the risk of bowel cancer was greater than 19% in individuals who consumed an average of 29 g (1 oz) per day, compared to those who ate only 5 g (0.2 oz) per day. For unprocessed red meats, the risk was 15% higher in those who ate 54 grams per day, compared to those who ate only 8 g (0.3 oz) per day.
An interesting fact refers to fiber intake from bread and breakfast cereals. In this case, the participants had a 14% reduced risk of colorectal cancer. While the consumption of alcohol (for an intake exceeding 10 g/ 0.3 oz per day) was associated with an 8% greater risk. Fish, poultry, cheese, fruit, vegetables, tea and coffee, on the other hand, have not been associated with the risk of bowel cancer. The indication is to minimize the intake of red and processed meat, to no more than twice a week. Some experts recommend to completely eliminate red meat from our tables.
Kathryn E Bradbury, Neil Murphy, Timothy J Key- Diet and colorectal cancer in UK Biobank: a prospective study – International Journal of Epidemiology (April 2019) https://academic.oup.com/ije/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ije/dyz064/5470096 (Last viewed 04.15.2022)