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​Poultry Consumption Linked to Cancer Risk

In addition to the known cancer risks associated with consumption of red and processed meats, a new study warns of an increased cancer risk from poultry.

"The latest meta-analysis from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that red meat was a probable cause and processed meat a convincing cause of colorectal cancer," write the researchers in their presentation abstract in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, led by first author Anika Knüppel, PhD, Nutritional Epidemiologist in the Cancer Epidemiology Unit of the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Population Health. "However, evidence for associations between red and processed meat intake and other cancer sites is limited. Furthermore, few studies have examined the association between poultry intake and cancer risk."

For this reason, the researchers examined the associations between consumption of red meat, processed meat, and poultry with the incidence of cancer at 20 common sites. The investigators analyzed data on 475,488 participants in the UK Biobank with an age range of 37 to 73 years who were cancer free at baseline. They obtained data on meat consumption based on a touchscreen questionnaire, completed at baseline, which asked about type and frequency of meat intake.

Participants were followed for a mean of 5.7 years. During this time, 23,117 participants were diagnosed with a malignant cancer. Consumption of red meat had a positive correlation with colorectal cancer incidence, with a hazard ratio of 1.20 per 50 g daily increment in intake. In addition, red meat intake was positively correlated with prostate cancer, with a hazard ratio of 1.14, and with breast cancer, with a hazard ratio of 1.13. Processed meat was positively correlated with colorectal cancer, with a hazard ratio of 1.16 per 20 g daily intake increment. Consumption of poultry was positively correlated with incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with a hazard ratio of 1.26 per 30 g daily intake increment; with malignant melanoma, with a hazard ratio of 1.20; and with prostate cancer, with a hazard ratio of 1.11.

The researchers caution that the associations between red meat consumption and risk of prostate and breast cancer "are not supported by most previous prospective studies and may be affected by residual confounding." Regarding their findings for poultry, for which previous research has been limited, Dr. Knüppel and colleagues conclude, "The positive associations of poultry intake with prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma require further investigation."

For More Information

Knuppel A, Papier K, Appleby PN, et al (2019). Meat intake and cancer risk: prospective analyses in UK Biobank. J Epidemiol Community Health, 73(1_suppl). Abstract OP31. DOI:10.1136/jech-2019-SSMabstracts.31

Image credit: Vyperx1

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