The results from a newly published 20-year study suggest that women who eat a lot of red meat in early adulthood have a 22 percent higher risk of breast cancer.
But it wasn’t all bad news. According to the study done by the Harvard School of Public Health, you can also reduce your breast cancer risk by 14 percent if you swap one daily serving of red meat with a combination of poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts.
This large study took over 20 years to complete and involved over 88,000 women. It was published in the British Medical Journal and took data from women ages 26-45. These women completed a questionnaire on their diet in 1991, 1995, 2003, and 2007.
According to the study’s author, Dr. Maryam Farvid:
Higher red meat intake in early adulthood may be a risk factor for breast cancer, and replacing red meat with a combination of legumes, poultry, nuts and fish may reduce the risk.
STUDY RESULTS: Breast Cancer Risks and Red Meat Consumption:
– Eating large amounts of red meat increases breast cancer by 22 percent
– Every extra daily serving of meat adds a 13 percent increased risk
– Replacing a daily red meat serving with poulty reduces breast cancer risk by 17 percent
The study looked at diet and risk, but it did not specify cause. Dr. Farvid did offer some theories:
Cancer-causing ‘byproducts created during high temperature cooking of red meat’ may be to blame. Another possibility: hormones used to increase growth of beef cattle. Also, food preservatives such as nitrate and nitrite in processed meat can also be associated with elevated risk of breast cancer.