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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

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Eating Meat May Raise Colon Cancer Risk

Study Suggests Eating Less Red Meat and Processed Meat May Cut Chances of Getting Colon Cancer

Why Meat May Raise Colon Cancer Risk continued...

"It appears that red meat -- and maybe processed meat even more -- has some relationship with colon cancer risk," says panel member Steven H Zeisel, MD, PhD, theKenan Distinguished Professor of nutrition and pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"A betting person would say there is risk associated with the consumption of red meat and processed meat," he says. "Moderating the amount of red meat you take in is reasonable based on this data. And trying to cut back and substitute other types of meat or vegetables would be a good idea for someone who wants to reduce risk of colon cancer."

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Drinking alcohol may increase colon cancer risk, according to the report. The report also states that excess belly fat may raise colorectal cancer risk, but staying lean, eating more fiber, and engaging in regular physical activity can help lower this risk.

"If you limit consumption of red meat, you have more room on your plate for good things like whole grains and vegetables," Bandera says. Some simple substitutes can help. "Choosing brown rice instead of white rice is a good way of increasing fiber."

Alice Bender, MS, RD, of the AICR, says the new report is especially important to people with a family history of colorectal cancer.

"If you have family history, it's more important than ever to follow these guidelines because they offer potentially some extra protection," she says.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association Weighs In

“Americans should continue to build healthier diets with beef, knowing the scientific evidence to support the role of nutrient-rich, lean beef in a healthy, balanced diet is strong,” says Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD, executive director of Human Nutrition Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“Nothing in this update should change the way Americans consume beef,” she says. “ In fact, Americans are consuming beef well within WCRF’s [World Cancer Research Fund] 500 gram (18 ounces) per week recommendation. As a scientist, registered dietitian, and a mother, I will continue to recommend lean beef to Americans trying to build a healthier plate because of the unique package of nutrients and enjoyment it brings to a healthy diet.”

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