A new finding seems to suggest that while eating red meat may increase one’s chances of breast cancer, consuming poultry is thought to protect against the disease.
According to researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the US, eating more red meat was associated with a greater risk of developing invasive breast cancer.
Conversely, eating more poultry such as chicken, turkey and duck, was linked to a decreased risk of the disease.
“Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen,” says Dr Dale P. Sandler, who led the study published in the International Journal of Cancer.
“Our study adds further evidence that red meat consumption may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer whereas poultry was associated with decreased risk.”
The researchers behind the study looked at the meat diet and meat cooking practices of 42,012 women over the course of around seven years.
In a follow-up, 1,536 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed. Women who consumed the highest amount of red meat were found to have a 23 per cent higher risk of breast cancer than those who consumed the lowest amount.
While women who ate the highest amount of poultry in their diet had a 15 per cent lower risk of the disease than those with the lowest consumption.
Maybe other factors are really behind the findings?
Not per the researchers. The results remained unchanged even when factors such as physical activity, obesity and alcohol consumption were taken into account.
Furthermore, there were no links found between the way the meat was cooked and breast cancer risks.
“While the mechanism through which poultry consumption decreases breast cancer risk is not clear, our study does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change that can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer,” Dr Sandler says.
Is this a novel finding?
Not exactly. This is not the first time an association has been made between red meat and breast cancer or the protective effects of eating poultry.
A Harvard School of Public Health-led study published in the British Medical Journal in 2014 found a link between a higher red meat intake during early adulthood and an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
“Higher red meat intake in early adulthood may be a risk factor for breast cancer“, according to the authors, “And replacing red meat with a combination of legumes, poultry, nuts and fish may reduce the risk of breast cancer.”