Eat meat no more than five times a week

2022-08-03 0 By

Eating meat five times a week or less is associated with a lower overall risk of cancer, according to a new study that analyzed the long-term eating behavior of nearly half a million people.The study was published Feb. 24 in BMC Medicine.Cody Watling from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and colleagues analyzed data on 472,777 British adults recruited from the British Biobank between 2006 and 2010 to investigate the relationship between diet and cancer risk.The participants, aged 40 to 70, reported how often they ate meat and fish, and the researchers used their health records to calculate their incidence of new cancers over an average of 11 years.The authors also took into account diabetes status as well as sociodemographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle factors in the study.There were 247,571 (52 percent) participants who ate meat five or more times per week, 205,382 (44 percent) who ate meat five or less times per week, 10,696 (2 percent) who ate only fish without meat, and 8,685 (2 percent) who were vegetarian or vegan.Of the participants, 54,961 (12%) developed cancer during the study period.The overall cancer risk was reduced by 2 percent among those who ate meat five or less times a week, 10 percent among those who ate fish but no meat, and 14 percent among regular vegetarians and vegans, compared with those who ate meat more than five times a week, the researchers found.After comparing the incidence of specific cancers with the participants’ dietary habits, the authors found that those who ate meat five or fewer times a week had a 9 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who ate meat five or more times a week.They also found that the risk of prostate cancer was 20 percent lower among men who ate only fish and no meat, and 31 percent lower among men who ate a regular vegetarian diet, compared with men who ate meat five or more times a week.Postmenopausal women who followed a regular vegetarian diet had an 18 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer than women who ate meat five or more times a week.The findings suggest this is due to the fact that the average vegetarian women tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who eat meat.The researchers caution that due to the observational nature of the study, no cause-and-effect conclusions can be drawn between diet and cancer risk.In addition, dietary data from the UK biobank were collected at a single point in time, rather than over a continuous period of time, and therefore may not be representative of participants’ dietary patterns throughout their lives.The authors suggest that future studies could investigate the association between a low – or no-meat diet and the risk of specific cancers in larger populations over longer follow-up periods.Relevant papers information: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02256-w