Colon Cancer and Red Meat Research

There has been a fair number of research studies conducted on the potential relationship between red meat consumption and colon cancer. A Harvard Medical School article says there are two major studies which indicate there is such a relationship. One was conducted in Europe and tracked 478,000 cancer-free men and women. Those who consumed the most red meat were about 33% more likely to get cancer than the one that consumed the least. Five ounces a day or more was how much the group with the greater chance of cancer consumed. Less than an ounce a day was what the group with the lower chance of cancer consumed.

The second study was of 148,610 people who were older adults and lived in America. Cancers of the lower colon and rectum increased with greater red meat consumption in that study as well. They did not for those who consumed no red meat but did consume chicken and fish.

A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute found grilled red meat and red meat that is well-cooked may increase the risk of developing colorectal tumors.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week and eliminating all processed meats such as pork sausage, ham and bacon. One idea about a possible cause for cancer related to red meat consumption is that cooking it at high temperatures produces chemicals called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are carcinogenic (cancer causing).

A meta-analysis of recent red meat and colon cancer research found there is a positive relationship between high red meat consumption and colon cancer. The researchers conclusion was, “High intake of red and processed meat is associated with significant increased risk of colorectal, colon and rectal cancers. The overall evidence of prospective studies supports limiting red and processed meat consumption as one of the dietary recommendations for the prevention of colorectal cancer.”

Also, a study of junk food consumption found eating it may increase the risk of developing colon cancer.

Another Harvard Medical School article says red meat consumption is associated with a greater risk of all cancers and cardiovascular disease. Some believe it is processed red meat consumption that is one of the unhealthiest dietary practices.

Image Credit: Emmanuelm, Wiki Commons