By Kelly Young
Edited by David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM
High red meat consumption in early adulthood is associated with increased risk for breast cancer, according to longer-term follow-up from the Nurses Health Study II, published in BMJ.
Researchers assessed intake of red meat and other protein sources among nearly 90,000 premenopausal women using food-frequency questionnaires. During 20 years of follow-up, some 2800 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed. After multivariable adjustment, women in the top quintile of red meat consumption (1.6 servings/day) had a 22% increased breast cancer risk, compared with women in the bottom quintile (0.2 servings/day). Swapping out red meat for poultry or legumes one meal a day was associated with significant risk reductions.
The authors conclude: "Consistent with the American Cancer Society guidelines, replacement of unprocessed and processed red meat with legumes and poultry during early adulthood may help to decrease the risk of breast cancer."