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High Meat Consumption Linked to Heightened Cancer Risk
Date:12/11/2007

U.S. study finds the more red meat and processed meat you eat, the higher the risk

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A quarter-pound hamburger or a small pork chop eaten daily could put you at increased risk for a variety of cancers, U.S. government health researchers report.

The more red meat and processed meat you eat, the greater your risk, the researchers from the National Cancer Institute concluded.

"Red and processed meats have been associated with an elevated risk with colorectal cancer. We investigated whether this association was also evident for cancers at other anatomic sites," explained lead author Amanda Cross, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). "This is the largest study to look at the effect of red and processed meat on multiple cancer sites, including rarer cancers, such as laryngeal and liver cancer."

For the study, red meats included beef, pork and lamb. Processed meats included bacon, red-meat sausage, poultry sausage, luncheon meats, cold cuts, ham, regular hot dogs and low-fat hot dogs.

Cross and her team from the National Institutes of Health and the AARP analyzed health data from 500,000 people aged 50 to 71 who participated in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study beginning in 1995-1996. They followed participants for about eight years, during which time they recorded 53,396 cases of cancer. In addition to meat consumption habits, the participants detailed other lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercise.

The team then grouped people into five categories according to their level of meat consumption.

"The highest category of red meat was those consuming the equivalent of a quarter pound hamburger or a small steak or a pork chop per day," said Cross, who added that the lowest category was equivalent to approximately three thin slices of ham or less per day.

For processed meat, the lowest category of co
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