Chicken And Fish No
Less Likely To Cause
Colon Cancer Than Red Meat
By Michael Skapinker and Paul Taylor
The Financial Times
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who have quit eating steaks for health reasons but still eat chicken and fish may still have a higher risk of colon cancer, researchers say.
They said so-called white meat is no less likely to cause cancer than ``red meat.'' But the more peas and beans a person eats, the lower the risk of colon cancer, they found.
``There is evidence of an excess risk of colon cancer for higher intakes of both red meat and white meat,'' Dr. Pramil Singh and Dr. Gary Fraser of the Center for Health Research at Loma Linda University in California wrote in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
``The strongest (food-related) risk factor ... was found for total meat intake,'' they added. Genetic makeup can also affect a person's risk of colon cancer.
Singh and Fraser used information from the Adventist Health Study, which examines the health of 34,000 Seventh Day Adventists. They are supposed to follow a largely vegetarian diet, but many sometimes eat meat.
Between 1977 and 1982 they found 157 cases of colon cancer in this group. Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, after lung cancer.
People who said they ate red meat once a week had a 38 percent higher risk of colon cancer than those who ate no meat. People who reported sometimes eating white meat had a 55 percent higher risk of colon cancer compared with vegetarians.
The more meat the Adventists ate, the higher their risk. People who ate red or white meat four times a week or more had up to 200 percent -- three times -- the risk of colon cancer.
Singh and Fraser said they did not know why meat had this effect, but diets high in fat and meat, and low in fruits, vegetables and fiber, have been linked to several forms of cancer, including colon cancer.
Several teams of researchers have found that cooking red meat produces chemicals known as heterocyclic aromatic amines, which have been found to cause tumors in rats and mice.
Last year the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund estimated that as many as 4 million cases of cancer worldwide could be prevented every year if people ate less meat and more vegetables.
The World Health Organization agrees people should cut back on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables to avoid cancer.
A 1996 study found that heavy consumption of animal fat, saturated and mono-unsaturated fat and red meat was associated with the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in women.