Long-term high consumption of red and processed meat may increase the risk of cancer in the colon and rectum, a new study shows.
Dr. Michael J. Thun, with the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues followed 148,610 adults, average age 63 years, who completed questionnaires in 1982 and again between 1992 and 1993 regarding their diet, exercise, medical history and other lifestyle habits. By 2001, there were 1667 new cases of colorectal cancer, according to a report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
The participants who consistently ate the most red meat and processed meats had a 50 percent higher rate colorectal cancer than those who ate the least red or processed meat. Prolonged high consumption of poultry and fish was marginally associated with about a 25 percent lower risk of colon cancer, but not rectal cancer.
Regarding the association between meat consumption and colorectal cancer, he adds, "prudence would suggest that red meat, and processed meats in particular, should be eaten sparingly to minimize risk."
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