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NUTRITION CORNER: High red meat consumption increases colon cancer risk

Red or processed meat increases the risk of cancer of the colon, this was the suggestion of a study published in a medical journal.

The American Cancer Society conducted a study of nearly 150,000 people, aged 50 to 74 on the relationship between consumption of red or processed meat and increased risk of colorectal cancer and suggested that there is credible evidence that high consumption of red or processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer.

Dr. Michael J. Thun, the chief of epidemiology of the American Cancer Society, and one of the authors of the study, said more than two dozen studies were conducted to examine the relationship between the consumption of large amounts of red or processed meat and increased risk of colorectal cancer and the growing body of evidence made it clear that red meat shouldn’t be the mainstay in the diet as it increases the risk of colon cancer.

Another study conducted by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) also showed that  there is a strong association between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and conducted in ten months among 478,040 men and women, aged 35 to 70, found out that those who consumed an average of five and a half ounces of red or processed meat daily were 35 percent more likely at the risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate an averaged of less than one ounce of red or processed meat daily.

Another study was conducted among 25,000 people, aged 45 to 75 to analyze their health and lifestyle habits for nine years. The researchers found out that those who ate more red meat developed rheumatoid arthritis than those who ate less red meat and were arthritis free.

Researchers also found that switching of several meals a week from beef to fish is good for the health in support of the recommendations made by the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. The researches revealed that eating more than three ounces of fish daily reduced by 31 percent the risk of colorectal cancer as compared to those who consumed less than a third of an ounce of fish daily. Morover, those who consumed the most red meat and the least fish had a 63 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer that those who ate the most fish and the least meat.

The society recommended that red meat should be eaten in limited amounts and that protein can be sourced out from other foods such as poultry, fish and beans.

However, Dr. Thun said the results of these studies should not cause panic among red meat eaters as it is not as risky as smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. He urged instead the reduction of  red meat consumption.#

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