Richard G. Petty, MD

Red Meat and Breast Cancer

There is an important study that was published in the April issue of the British Journal of Cancer, but which I haven’t seen reported in the United States.

The researchers did a survival analysis to assess the effect of meat consumption and meat type on the risk of breast cancer in the UK Women’s Cohort Study. Between 1995 and 1998 a cohort of 35,372 women was recruited, aged between 35 and 69 years with a wide range of dietary intakes, assessed by a 217-item food frequency questionnaire. The researchers also took into account smoking, weight, fruit and vegetable intake, class, education and use of hormone replacement therapy.

The results showed that eating even small amounts of red meat daily can increase the risk of breast cancer by 56 per cent in older women.

As little as 2oz (57g) of beef, lamb or pork a day showed an effect. Post-menopausal woman who ate larger amounts, 3.6oz (103g), of processed meats such as sausage, bacon or ham had an increased risk of 64 per cent.

Even younger, pre-menopausal women had a slightly raised risk if they ate red meat daily.

Earlier analysis from the study found that pre-menopausal women who had the greatest intake of fibre cut their breast cancer risk by half.

The Leeds work supports other studies. In November, a study from the United States found that women who ate the largest amounts of red meat had a rising risk of breast cancer. But different studies have presented conflicting views.

One reason why red meat may contribute to a raised risk of breast cancer is that it is a rich source of saturated fat. The women who ate the most meat were also more likely to be fatter.

The publication of the study in the United Kingdom generated a great many negative comments from the meat industry.

One spokesperson, on hearing that as little as two ounces may be enough to increse the cancer risk said,

"Two ounces is absolutely tiny. I have never heard such rubbish. It’s a tiny amount. This is ridiculous, it’s silly."

I doubt very much that it is "silly," though it is a surprise that the study has not attracted more attention.

The best way to look at this data is not to say that everyone should become vegetarian, but to recommend that women should:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep and maintain a healthy weight
  • Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

logo logo logo logo logo logo