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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2015 Oct;39(5):429-33. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12450.

Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to the consumption of red and processed meat.

Author information

  • 1QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland.
  • 2School of Public Health, The University of Queensland.
  • 3National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Research School of Population Health, Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory.



To estimate the proportion and numbers of cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to consuming red/processed meat.


We estimated the population attributable fraction (PAF) for cancers causally associated with red/processed meat consumption (colon, rectum) using standard formulae incorporating prevalence of consumption (1995 National Nutrition Survey), relative risks associated with consumption and cancer incidence. We also estimated the proportion change in cancer incidence (potential impact fraction [PIF]) that might have occurred under two hypothetical interventions whereby Australian adults reduced their consumption of red/processed meat from prevailing levels to ≤100 g or ≤65 g per day, respectively.


An estimated 2,614 cases (18%) of colorectal cancer occurring in Australians in 2010 were attributable to red/processed meat consumption (16% of colon cancers; 23% of rectal cancers). We estimated that if all Australian adults had consumed ≤65 g/day or ≤100 g/day of red/processed meat, then the incidence of colorectal cancer would have been 5.4% (798 cancers) or 1.4% (204 cancers) lower, respectively.


About one in six colorectal cancers in Australians in 2010 were attributable to red/processed meat consumption.


Reducing red/processed meat intake may reduce colorectal cancer incidence, but must be balanced against nutritional benefits of modest lean meat consumption.

© 2015 The Authors.


cancer; population attributable fraction; potential impact fraction; red/processed meat; risk factor

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