Study: Red meat possibly linked to breast cancer

Women who often consume hamburgers, steaks and other red meat may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, a new study suggests. Scientists estimated that in women who ate the most amount of red meat, there were an extra 6.8 cases of breast cancer for every 1,000 women over 20 years of follow-up. The researchers couldn’t rule out the possibility that other factors might explain the apparent link between red meat and breast cancer. Scientists suspect proteins in red meat speed up cell division and tumour growth; chemicals such as nitrates in processed meats are already classified as probable carcinogens.

Breasts are still developing and are more susceptible to carcinogens before women have their first full-term pregnancy.

Mia Gaudet, director of genetic epidemiology at the American Cancer Society

Mia Gaudet, director of genetic epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said it was plausible that red meat could somehow be connected to breast cancer and that women’s eating habits in their 20s might be particularly significant. The study was carried out by Harvard University mainly among educated, white American women, and researchers said that the results were not necessarily applicable to women of other races.

It’s important to have a healthy lifestyle throughout your life and not just as you get older and more worried about cancer. People should perhaps consider ordering a salad or a vegetarian option sometime.

Mia Guadet