Compared with women who had one serving of red meat a week, those who ate 1.5 servings a day appeared to have a 22 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Each additional daily serving of red meat seemed to increase the risk of breast cancer another 13 percent, Farvid said.
Eating more poultry, however, appeared to lower the risk. Substituting one serving of poultry for one serving of red meat reduced the risk of breast cancer by 17 percent overall and by 24 percent among postmenopausal women.
“Decreasing consumption of red meat and replacing it with other healthy dietary sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, lentils, peas and nuts, may have important public health implications,” Farvid said. “Reduction of red meat intake in the diet not only decreases the risk of breast cancer but also decreases the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other kind of cancers, as well.”
Farvid also noted that red meat has been thought to increase the risk of breast cancer in different ways:
- Cancer-causing by-products created during high temperature cooking of red meat
- Hormones used to increase growth of beef cattle
- Food preservatives such as nitrate and nitrite in processed meat
The report was published June 10 online in the BMJ.