Red meat within recommended limits still raises risk of colorectal cancer

  • Bradbury KE & al.
  • Int J Epidemiol
  • 17 Apr 2019

  • curated by Sarfaroj Khan
  • UK Medical News
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A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that people consuming an average of 76 g/day of red and processed meat-which is in line with current UK government recommendation (≤90 g/day), are still at increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Researchers used data of half a million men and women aged 40-69 years from the UK Biobank recruited between 2006 and 2010 and used short food-frequency questionnaire and assessed re-measured dietary intakes to quantify the risk.

The study, jointly funded by the Cancer Research UK, reported 2609 cases of colorectal cancer during an average follow-up of 5.7 years. Compared with 21 g/day, an average consumption of 76 g/day of red and processed meat was associated with a 20% higher risk for colorectal cancer (HR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04-1.37). Each 25 g/day and 50 g/day increment in processed-meat intake increased the risk for incident colorectal cancer by 19% (HR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.03-1.38; Ptrend =.020) and 18% (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.00-1.39; Ptrend =.049), respectively.

Each 10 g/day increase in alcohol consumption was also associated with an 8% higher risk for colorectal cancer (HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.04-1.12). Intake of fibre from bread and breakfast demonstrated reduced risk for colorectal cancer (HR for the highest vs lowest fifth of intake, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.76-0.98; Ptrend=.005). Fish, poultry, cheese, fruit, vegetables, tea and coffee intakes were not associated with colorectal cancer risk.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: “The government guidelines on red and processed meat are general health advice and this study is a reminder that the more you can cut down beyond this, the more you can lower your chances of developing bowel cancer.”


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