Red Meat and Cancer: What's the Beef?

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


June 20, 2013

In This Article

Red Meat and Other Cancers

Until recently, much of the research has looked at the possible link between red meat and CRC. Research on red and processed meat consumption, cooking methods, and the risk for other cancers (and cancer precursors) has produced mixed results:

Prostate cancer: Positive association between prostate cancer and high intake of red meat cooked at high temperatures, pan-fried, or well-done.[10]

Pancreatic cancer: No association with red or processed meat or fish; high poultry consumption might be associated with pancreatic cancer.[11]

Bladder cancer: Processed meat intake associated with bladder cancer.[12]

Esophageal cancer: Meta-analyses finding that red and processed meats may increase risk for esophageal cancer[13,14] Higher fish intake lowers risk.[15]

Barrett esophagus: No association found between red meat intake or N-nitrosation-related factors and Barrett esophagus.[16]

• Lung cancer: High intake of red meat raises risk for lung cancer by 35%.[17]

Hepatocellular carcinoma: Total intake of fish related to reduced risk.[18]

Renal cell carcinoma: Red meat increases the risk for renal cell carcinoma.[19]

Breast cancer: Not consistently related to meat intake.[20]

Endometrial cancer: A modest association between heme iron, total iron, and liver intake (not with red or processed meats) [21]; however, other studies found no association between intake of red or processed meat and endometrial cancer.[22]

In aggregate, studies examining the link between red meat and various types of cancers suggest that meat is one dietary factor that increases cancer risk.[23]


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