Intakes of red or processed meat increas the risk of bowel cancer

People who eat more than 160 grams of red or &to=http:// ' target=_blank>processed meat a day are 35 percent more likely to develop bowel cancer than those who eat less than 20 grams a day, according to one of the biggest nutrition investigations ever carried out.

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) followed 478,040 men and women aged 35 to 70 from 10 European countries.

All subjects were free of cancer at enrollment between 1992 and 1998, but after an average follow-up of almost 5 years 1,329 colorectal cancers had been reported.

The subsequent analysis, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, confirms the long-held suspicion that high intakes of red meat are associated with increased bowel cancer risk.

After factoring in age, sex, height, weight, energy intake, &to=http:// 19/94/377/15522_walkingcancer.html ' target=_blank>physical activity, smoking, dietary fibre, folate, and alcohol consumption, the investigators found that bowel cancer was associated with intake of red and processed meat but not chicken, tells Reuters.

The study also said fish is protective, giving a reduction in risk of a third for those who eat fish every other day.

Chicken, however, was a no-show, with no effect at all, the researchers reported in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Sheila Bingham, study investigator at the UK's Medical Research Council nutrition unit, said: "People have suspected for some time that high levels of red and processed meat increase risk of bowel cancer, but this is one of the largest studies worldwide and the first from Europe of this type to show a strong relationship."

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