April 4, 2007

Eating even small amounts of red meat can greatly increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, according to a study published today.

Post-menopausal women who ate large amounts (more than 103 grams) of processed meat a day could be 64 per cent more likely to suffer the disease, while the researchers found as little as 57g of beef, pork or lamb a day showed an effect.

Even younger women faced a slightly raised risk if they ate red meat every day, according to the study which appears in the British Journal of Cancer.

The study, led by Professor Janet Cade of the University of Leeds, involved studying the diets of 35,000 women aged between 35 and 69 for eight years.

The research states: "Women, both pre and post-menopausal, who consumed the most meat had the highest risk of breast cancer.

"Women generally consuming most total meat, red and processed meat were at the highest increased risk compared with non-meat consumers."
They were compared with women in the study who were vegetarian and researchers also took into account smoking, weight, fruit and vegetable intake, education, age and use of hormone replacement therapy.
"I am not suggesting that everyone should become a vegetarian, that would be unrealistic, but the findings were strong and I think we should pay attention to them."

But the study was dismissed as "rubbish" by Sandy Crombie, chairman of the Scottish region of The Guild of Q Butchers, who pointed out that 56g of meat was roughly half a quarter-pound burger.

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