A recent meta-analysis of data from 475,000 participants in UK Biobank suggests that eating red meat and processed meat may increase risk of colorectal cancer. Consumption of red meat was also associated with increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Consumption of even so called white mean chicken meat was linked with elevated risk of prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Researchers at University of Oxford and other organizations meta-analyzed data from 470,488 men and women aged 37 to 73 years who were free of cancer at baseline, and found these associations. During an average 5.7-year follow-up, 23,117 participants were diagnosed with cancer.
The study showed that eating 50 grams of red meat per day was positively correlated with 20% increased risk of colorectal cancer, 13% increased risk of breast cancer, and 14% increased risk of prostate cancer. Eating 20 grams per day of processed meat was linked to a 16% increase in the risk of colorectal cancer.
Consumption of 30 grams per day of chicken meat was positively linked to 20%, 11% and 26% increased risks of melanoma, prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, respectively.
The risk from consumption of red and processed meat, particularly processed meat has been known for long. Chicken meat has been considered much safer. But the current study finds it may also increase risk of certain types of malignancies. Some studies have found chicken when cooked improperly can generate an even larger amount of carcinogen than red meat.