"Eating even small amounts of red meat daily can increase the risk of breast cancer by 56 per cent in older women, according to British research published today.
Researchers were quite surprised that only 2oz of red meat a day appeared to have an effect
As little as 2oz (57g) of beef, lamb or pork a day showed an effect. Post-menopausal woman who ate larger amounts, 3.6oz (103g), of processed meats such as sausage, bacon, ham or pies had an increased risk of 64 per cent.
Even younger, pre-menopausal women had a slightly raised risk if they ate red meat daily, the study from the University of Leeds found.
The research, led by Prof Janet Cade, a professor of nutritional epidemiology and public health, involved 35,000 women aged between 35 and 69 who have been followed for nearly eight years."
"The researchers took into account smoking, weight, fruit and vegetable intake, class, education and use of hormone replacement therapy.
"The findings are robust. Whatever we adjusted the data for we could still find an association," Prof Cade said yesterday. The study, in the British Journal of Cancer, says: "Women consuming the most total [all kinds] meat, red meat and processed meat were at the highest risk compared with non-meat eaters, although red and processed meat were only statistically significant post-menopausally"."
"Prof Cade said one reason why red meat may contribute to a raised risk of breast cancer is that it is a rich source of saturated fat. The women who ate the most meat were also more likely to be fatter."
"Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, said: "Our best dietary advice to women worried about their breast cancer risk is to maintain a healthy body weight by taking regular exercise and avoiding large regular portions of fatty foods like red and processed meat, and excess alcohol. It's also important to be breast aware, and to go for screening when invited by your GP."
Dr Alexis Willett, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "We encourage all women to eat a balanced diet, limit alcohol consumption, exercise regularly and keep a healthy weight to maintain general good health.""
I have quoted rather extensively from this article because when advice is given the amount of coverage that this has had today - radio, TV, newspapers - it is likely to be very influential. And this research must have cost a huge amount of money - 35,000 women over a period of eight years. - Despite its cost, and despite the publicity given to it, I am not remotely persuaded that its findings can be given much credence and I am confident that the conclusions the researchers have drawn are flawed. I'll explain why I am of this opinion.
Neither the researcher nor the people quoted as commenting on the research findings makes any mention of salt (or sodium) as far as I can see, even though Prof Cade says: "The women who ate the most meat were also more likely to be fatter." - But people are made fatter by the conjunction of salt sensitivity and the intake of salt, not by eating red meat as such. It looks to me as though the red meat eaters may possibly have used a bit more salt than the other women in the study. - The processed meat in the study would have had salt added by the food manufacturers, and that added salt would of course have increased the weight of the women who were sensitive to salt, and so would have increased the risk of their getting breast cancer.
The research would have been much more useful if levels of salt/sodium intake had been among the parameters considered, but it does not appear to have been.
Obesity is caused by fluid retention which in turn is usually caused by salt sensitivity. And obesity is the main individual contributory factor in the causation of most cancers. - So in my opinion, the best dietary measure anyone can take to lower their risk of developing cancer in general, and breast cancer in particular, is to lower their salt intake to the lowest they can manage.
This page lists many of the adverse health conditions that are caused or exacerbated by salt sensitivity, and cured or made less severe by cutting down on salt intake, and by eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit - http://www.wildeaboutsteroids.co.uk/conditions.html
Lose weight by eating less salt! Go on! - Try it! - You will feel so much better! See my website www.wildeaboutsteroids.co.uk (The site does not sell anything and has no banners or sponsors or adverts - just helpful information.)