April 02, 2018
2 min read

Distal colon cancer risk lower among women who avoid red meat

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Women who avoided eating red meat showed a lower risk for distal colon cancer, but not other types of colorectal cancer, in a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Diego Rada-Fernandez de Jauregui, MD , of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at the University of Leeds, and colleagues analyzed data from the United Kingdom Women’s Cohort Study to assess dietary habits and how they related to risk for different types of colon or rectal cancers.

“The impact of different types of red meat and dietary patterns on cancer locations is one of the biggest challenges in the study of diet and colorectal cancer,” Rada-Fernandez de Jauregui said in a press release. “Our research is one of the few studies looking at this relationship and while further analysis in a larger study is needed, it could provide valuable information for those with family history of colorectal cancer and those working on prevention.”

The analysis included data from 32,147 women from England, Wales and Scotland who were recruited and surveyed by the World Cancer Research fund between 1995 and 1998 and were followed for an average of 17 years. The researchers explored the relationship between four common dietary patterns based on a hierarchy of consumption of red meat, poultry and fish, and risk for overall colorectal cancer, as well as cancer of specific subsites of the colon.

The investigators identified 462 cases of CRC and 119 cases of distal colon cancer.

Red meat in a refrigerated display case
Women who avoid eating red meat have a lower risk for distal colon cancer, researchers found.
Source: Shutterstock.com

Rada-Fernandez de Jauregui and colleagues found no evidence that a red meat-free diet reduced risk for overall CRC (HR=0.86; 95% CI, 0.66–1.12), colon cancer (HR=0.77; 95% CI, 0.56–1.05) or rectal cancer (HR=1.04; 95% CI, 0.66–1.63) compared with diets that included red meat. However, exploratory analysis revealed that women on a red meat free-diet had a lower risk for distal colon cancer vs. patients who ate red meat (HR=0.56; 95% CI, 0.34–0.95).

The researchers wrote that their data indicate that red meat-free diets could be protective against distal colon cancer specifically, but suggested a larger study is needed to confirm their findings.

“Our study not only helps shed light on how meat consumption may affect the sections of the colorectum differently, it emphasizes the importance of reliable dietary reporting from large groups of people,” Janet E. Cade, PhD, BSc, co-author and head of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at Leeds University, said in the press release. “With access to the United Kingdom Women’s Cohort Study we are able to uncover trends in public health and analyze how diet can influence the prevention of cancer. Accurate dietary reporting provides researchers with the information they need to link the two together.” – by Alex Young

Disclosures : Cade reports she is the director of a university spin out company, Dietary Assessment Ltd.