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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Red Meat-Colon Cancer Link Grows

Eating Too Much Red Meat or Too Little Fish May Raise Colon Cancer Risk

WebMD Health News

June 14, 2005 -- Eating too much red meat or not enough fish may increase your risk of developing colon cancer.colon cancer.

Researchers say the results confirm previous studiesprevious studies that have shown that eating large amounts of red or processed meat raises the risk of colon cancer while eating lots of fish has the opposite effect.

The study, which followed more than 500,000 men and women from 10 European countries, showed that people who ate the most red and processed meats had a higher risk of colon cancer than those who ate the least. Meanwhile, people who ate the most fish had a lower risk of colon cancer.

The results appear in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Red Meat Raises Cancer Risk

In the study, researchers looked at the association between how much red or processed meats, poultry, or fish people ate and their risk of developing colon cancer over nearly five years of follow-up.

During that time, more than 1,300 cases of colon cancer were diagnosed among the participants.

But the study showed that colon cancer was more common among heavy red and processed meat eaters (an average of more than 5.6 ounces per day).

For example, researchers estimate that 1.71% of heavy meat eaters would develop colon cancer during 10-year period meat compared with 1.28% among those who ate the least (an average of less than an ounce per day).

The researchers found that the chance of developing colon cancer was higher with processed meats compared with just red meats.

They also found that the risk of colon cancer was lower among people who ate the most fish (an average of nearly 3 ounces per day) compared with those who ate the least (an average of about a third of an ounce per day).

For fish, the researchers estimate that 1.28% of heavy fish eaters would develop colon cancer during a 10-year period compared with 1.86% of those who ate the least amount of fish.

There was no link between poultry consumption and colon cancer risk.

Researchers say an estimated 70% of colon cancer cases could be avoided through changes in lifestyle in Western countries.

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