Can red meat increase breast cancer risk?

With new research breakthroughs and landmark scientific findings occurring almost weekly, it seems as though we can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without being told to cut yet another dish from our daily menus. Last week, the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that in order to reduce the risk of breast cancer, women should reduce their intake of red meat.

According to the US study, eating a lot of red meat during early adulthood could increase the risk of developing the disease and it should be replaced by beans, peas, lentils, poultry, nuts and fish. However, UK health experts urged us to view the research with caution, as other trials have not shown a clear link between the two.

Here at Genesis, we fully support the notion that being a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet can help to reduce the risk of breast cancer and we’ve spent 11 years developing The 2-Day Diet. We know that being overweight can increase the risk of developing breast cancer and that losing and maintaining a healthy, lower weight is one of the best ways to reduce this risk. One of the most effective ways to do this is with a diet which includes healthy protein foods such as fish , poultry and lentils beans low fat dairy, fruit and vegetables and also includes healthy fats and high fibre starchy foods

The Harvard study is not consistent with many other trials which have shown that meat intake in women is not specifically linked to breast cancer risk.

Dr Michelle Harvie, who helped to develop The 2-Day Diet for weight loss, said: “This study shows that women who had a high intake of red meat were likely to have breast cancer. This group were also heavier and had higher energy intakes, and were also more likely to be smokers – which are all risk factors which could explain their higher risk The study did not take into account weight gain or sedentary behaviours which are risk factors which may have been found in the meat eaters

“The study does not suggest that meat needs to be omitted totally from the diet. The harmful effects of meat intake at a younger age were seen at very high daily intakes – more than 120g (4 oz) per day.”

Although we don’t believe this study proves a direct link between high red meat intake and breast cancer, we always welcome new research into possible links to the disease. This study raises the important issue that we should consider a lifelong approach to healthy living to reduce risk of breast cancer. By ensuring we have as much information as possible, we become closer to creating a breast cancer free future.