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Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 May;58(2):261-4.

Meat and colo-rectal cancer.

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Lady Sobell Gastrointestinal Unit, Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, UK.


In early epidemiological studies of diet and cancer the stress was on the search for causal factors. Population (ecological) studies tended to show a strong correlation between meat intake, particularly red meat, and the risk of colo-rectal cancer. They also tended to show meat to be strongly inversely correlated with cancers of the stomach and oesophagus and liver. Early case-control studies tended to support the postulated role for red meat in colo-rectal carcinogenesis, although more recent case-control studies, particularly those from Europe, have tended to show no relationship. The cohort studies in general failed to detect any relationship between meat intake and colo-rectal cancer risk. The available evidence points to the intake of protective factors such as vegetables and whole-grain cereals being the main determinants of colo-rectal cancer risk, with meat intake only coincidentally related.

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