Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Is Red Meat Consumption Linked to Breast Cancer Risk?

By: Hillary Ojeda
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019

Consuming red meat appears to be linked to a higher risk of invasive breast cancer, whereas eating poultry may be associated with a reduced risk of this type of cancer, according to research findings published in the International Journal of Cancer. Dale P. Sandler, PhD, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and colleagues, consider the results worthy of further studies on the benefits of poultry consumption.

“Strengths of the present study include large sample size, comprehensive baseline risk factor assessment, and ability to account for time-varying menopausal status and to explore impact of family history and other behavioral and lifestyle factors,” the investigators concluded.

A total of 42,012 women took part in the Sister Study, a nationwide prospective cohort study based in the United States and Puerto Rico intended to assess risk factors for breast cancer. Participants were between the ages of 35 and 74, had no previous breast cancer diagnosis, and were sisters or half-sisters of women diagnosed with breast cancer. The enrollment period for the study was between 2003 and 2009, during which time participants completed a Block 1998 Food Frequency Questionnaire.

After a follow-up of 7.6 years, a total of 1,536 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed at least 1 year after study enrollment. Increasing consumption of red meat was linked to an increased risk of invasive breast cancer (hazard ratio of highest to lowest quartile = 1.23, 95% confidence interval = 1.02–1.48, P trend = .01). As for poultry consumption, there seemed to be an inverse association with invasive breast cancer (hazard ratio highest to lowest quartile = 0.85, 95% confidence interval = 0.73–1.00, P trend = .02). “No associations were observed for cooking practices, estimated heterocyclic amines, or heme iron from red meat consumption with breast cancer risk,” the investigators added.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at

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