Researchers have revealed that gorging on beef, lamb, mutton and pork makes women more likely to be affected by the disease. Those who ate the most red meat had a 23 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than those who ate the least, according to a study of 42,000 women. Women who ate the most poultry had a 15 percent lower risk than those who ate the least.
Study author Dr Dale Sandler, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the US, said: “Our study adds further evidence that red meat consumption may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer whereas poultry was associated with decreased risk.
“While the mechanism through which poultry consumption decreases breast cancer risk is not clear, our study does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change that can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer.”
Some 1,536 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed during the study. Participants all had a family history of breast cancer and filled in surveys about their eating habits.
Those who ate more meat tended to be younger, consume more total calories and were more likely to have smoked or drunk alcohol.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with 55,200 cases diagnosed every year of which 23 percent are preventable, according to Cancer Research UK.
The charity’s health information officer, Weilin Wu, said: “Research hasn’t shown a link between eating red meat and breast cancer risk before, so this is intriguing but the results don’t paint a clear or consistent picture.
“This study looked at women with a family history of breast cancer, which may already put them at higher risk, so we need research with a wider range of people to better understand the relationship.”