Despite previous study findings that have linked red meat consumption and breast cancer, a new study suggests that iron in meat is not to blame.
Researchers note that meat's saturated fat content has been the main focus of many studies that have linked meat consumption with breast cancer, and that iron, a mineral found in meat, has received little attention.
To investigate if iron could be linked to breast cancer risk, researchers studied more than 100,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, looking for any evidence of a link between amounts of iron in the women's diets and their risk of developing breast cancer.
Every woman filled out a detailed survey that included foods she consumed, including specific types of meats, how they were prepared and levels of doneness, all of which may affect the meat's iron content.
Over the course of the six-and-a-half-year study, 3,396 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
After accounting for various other factors that could be associated with breast cancer, including age, obesity, family history, smoking and physical activity, researchers found no link between breast cancer and any form of dietary iron.
Even after differentiating between different types of dietary iron, including that from vegetable and grain sources; iron from all meats, including chicken and bacon as well as red meat; and iron from red meat only, they still found no apparent connections to breast cancers.
The findings were reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, breast cancer continues to be the most common cancer among Canadian women with one in nine Canadian women expected to develop the disease during her lifetime.
For more information on breast cancer, please visit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
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