Printer Friendly

Meat's risk for cancer: just bologna? ... not when it's prostate cancer.

Many epidemiological studies have implicated red meat or animal fat as a risk factor in colon cancer -- though not unequivocally. While a new Dutch study does not exonerate red meats, it does suggest that the accusatory finger should be pointed at processed meats, "mainly sausages."

R. Alexandra Goldbohm of the TNO-Toxicology and Nutrition Institute in Zeist, the Netherlands, and her colleagues mailed a detailed questionnaire on diet and other cancer risk factors to 120,852 Dutch men and women. After following these individuals -- age 55 to 69 -- for 3.3 years, the researchers then compared the recorded diet and other habits of the 312 individuals who developed colon cancer with those of 3,500 other members of the initial group.

In the Feb. 1 CANCER RESEARCH, Goldbohm's team reports finding no link between colon cancer and consumption of freshly cooked meats, animal fat, or animal protein. However, they did observe that eating processed meat appears "consistently and positively related to risk." Compared to adults who ate none, those who consumed more than 20 grams daily were 72 percent more likely to develop colon cancer.

... not when it's prostate cancer

A new study of 14,916 male physicians links eating red meat to prostate cancer. Data from the 120 prostate malignancies that developed in study participants during the first 6 years indicate that men eating red meat five or more times a week face 2.5 times the risk of developing this cancer as men who consumed red meat once a week or less. Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston report their finding in the Feb. 16 JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE.

Last October, some of the same authors reported on a similar large, long-term study. Its dietary-recall data linked meat and animal fat with fostering the spread of prostate cancer -- but not with initiating the disease (SN: 10/9/93, p.228). The new study, based on blood samples taken prior to a diagnosis of cancer, does appear to link diet to cancer development. However, notes study leader Peter H. Gann, now at Northwestern Medical School in Chicago, there were more invasive cancers in the newer study. So its findings "are very consistent" with the other group's.

Like that earlier Harvard study, the new one also observed up to a tripling of colon cancer risk among men whose blood contained the most alpha-linolenic acid (a polyunsaturated fat obtained from meats, dairy foods, and some vegetable oils) compared to men whose blood bore undetectable levels of the fatty acid. Moreover, in both studies, aipha-linolenic's effect proved independent of red meat's risk.

A related editorial in the same journal says "compelling reasons" exist to suspect that male sex hormones, such as testosterone, "are also intimately involved in prostate cancer." Because high-fat, low-fiber diets may boost circulating levels of such hormones -- even in pregnant women -- a man's eventual predisposition to prostate cancer may begin in utero, argue Ronaid K. Ross of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Southern California and his coauthor.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:processed meat linked to colon cancer; red meat linked to prostate cancer
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 19, 1994
Previous Article:DNA dates for first Americans.
Next Article:Another way EMFs might harm tissues.

Related Articles
Meaty findings about colon cancer and diet.
A little less fat won't cut cancer risk.
Not so hot hot dogs? Fleshing out risks associated with how we treat meat.
Beat the heat.
Well-Done Research.
Fire up the barbecue it's grilling time.
The venerable cow, guilty as charged.
Hold the beef and the bacon.
Meat & stomach cancer.
Processed meat and red meat increase risk of pancreatic cancer.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters