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Red Meat Increases Breast Cancer Risk

Women in the post-menopause stage run the risk of breast cancer if they eat red meat, one more study suggests.//

Older women who ate one a day 57 grams of red meat had a 56% increased risk compared with those who ate none.

And those who ate the most processed meat, such as bacon, sausages, ham or pies, had a 64% greater risk of breast cancer than those who did not.

The University of Leeds study features in the British Journal of Cancer.

The researchers tracked the eating habits and health of more than 35,000 women for seven years.

Lead researcher Professor Janet Cade said younger, pre-menopausal women who ate large amounts of red and processed meat also had a raised risk of breast cancer - but the effect was not statistically significant.

However, the researchers did find that a high overall consumption of meat appeared to raise the risk for women of all ages.

Professor Cade said: "Meat is high in saturated fat, and saturated fat influences the amount of cholesterol the body makes. Cholesterol is precursor to estrogen, which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

"Cooking meat at high temperatures might also form carcinogenic compounds.

"My advice to women who are consuming relatively high amounts of red and processed meat on a daily basis is to consider reducing their intake,” he stressed.

Earlier findings from the same study showed that pre-menopausal women who have the greatest intake of fiber have cut their risk of breast cancer in half.

Experts estimate that approximately 30% of all cancers in Western countries are linked to diet.

Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK, said women should maintain a healthy body weight, take regular exercise, and avoid regular portions of fatty foods like red and processed meat.

A US study published in November found eating large amounts of red meat might double young women's breast cancer risk.

After a study of over 90,000 pre-menopausal women, it was said one-and-a-half servings of red meat per day almost doubled the risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer compared to three or fewer per week.

Writing in Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers led by Dr Eunyoung Cho, had then said: "Several biological mechanisms may explain the positive association between red meat intake and hormone receptor-positive breast cancer risk.”

Cooked and processed red meats have been shown to contain cancer-causing chemicals such as heterocyclic amines, which are created during the cooking of red meat.

The researchers also say red meat is a source of heme iron, which previous research has shown fuels the growth of estrogen-induced tumors. /

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