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Too much red meat 'may raise breast cancer risk'.

Higher red meat intake may increase the risk of certain breast cancers in pre-menopausal women, according to research. Women who ate more than one and one-half servings of red meat per day had almost double the risk of 'hormone receptor-positive' breast cancer compared with those who ate three or fewer servings a week.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston, studied the association between red meat consumption and breast cancer in 90,659 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study II, focusing on nurses who responded to an initial questionnaire in 1989.

Participants filled out food questionnaires in 1991, 1995 and 1999, on which they recorded how often they regularly ate more than 130 different foods and drinks.

Every two years, they reported whether or not they had developed breast cancer. Only women who were premenopausal and had not previously had cancer were included in the analysis.

The findings are contained in a report in the November 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

By the end of the study, 1,021 women had developed breast cancer, including 512 cases that were oestrogen and progesterone receptor positive, 167 that were oestrogen and progesterone receptor negative, 110 with mixed status and 232 with unknown status.

The highest intake of red meat was not significantly associated with the risk of breast cancer overall, but was associated with an increased risk of hormone receptor-positive cancer.

'Several biological mechanisms may explain the positive association between red meat intake and hormone receptor-positive breast cancer risk,' the authors wrote. 'Known cancer-causing compounds in cooked or processed red meat increase mammary tumours in animals and have been suspected of causing breast cancer in humans. 'In addition, cattle in the United States are treated with hormones to promote growth, which could also influence breast cancer risk. 'The type of iron available in red meat also may enhance tumour formation.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 14, 2006
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