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Eating Red Meat Increases Cancer Risk

Monday May 19, 2014 (foodconsumer.org) -- Eating too much red meat like beef may increase risk of stomach cancer, a study released in the June 2014 issue of Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology suggests.

Previous studies have already reported the association between red meat consumption and risk of stomach cancer.  Red meats include beef and pork.

The current study meta-analyzed data from 18 studies and found men and women in the highest categories of red meat intake were 37% more likely to develop stomach cancer, compared with those in the lowest category.

Population based case-control studies showed that high red meat consumption was associated with 58% increased risk of stomach cancer, compared with low consumption.  The increase in the risk of stomach cancer was even higher (63% higher) in those hospital-based case-control studies.

The meta-analysis also revealed a dose response association which shows every additional 100 grams of red meat per day was associated with 17% increased risk of stomach cancer.

The study concluded "Increased intake of red meat might be a risk factor for stomach cancer."

Red meats include beef, lamb, pork, venison, buffalo, and sheep while beef is the most consumed red meat.

It should be noted that none of the studies are trials meaning that the cause for the increased risk is not necessarily red meat consumption.  However, the possibility can't be excluded either.

A review published in the Jan 2014 issue of Cancer Epidemiology & Biomarkers Prevention suggests that iron in red meat may be responsible for the elevated risk of stomach cancer in those who eat a lot of red meat.

Red meat consumption has also been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in addition to various cancers.

Paula Jakszyn from Catalan Institute of Oncology-ICO, IDIBELL, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat in Barcelona, Spain and colleagues, authors of the review, reported that iron has been considered a risk factor due to its potent prooxidant activity which can lead to DNA damaging oxidations.

The authors reviewed 59 epidemiologic studies published between 1995 and 2012 and found intake of an additional 1 mg of heme iron per day was associated with 8%, 12%, 3%, and 12% increased risk of colorectal cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer respectively.  Heme iron is found high in red meat like beef.
 
However, the review also found evidence indicating iron stores most in the form of serum ferritin has a negative impact on the risk of cancer.  (David Liu)

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