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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011;20(4):603-12.

Red meat intake may increase the risk of colon cancer in Japanese, a population with relatively low red meat consumption.

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Epidemiology and Prevention Division, Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, National Cancer Center, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Asian populations have changed from traditional to Westernized diets, with increased red meat intake. They are suggested to be particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of red meat on the development of colorectal cancers, however, few prospective studies of this putative link have been conducted. We examined associations between the consumption of red and processed meat and the risk of subsite-specific colorectal cancer by gender in a large Japanese cohort. During 1995-1998, a validated food frequency questionnaire was administered to 80,658 men and women aged 45-74 years. During 758,116 person-years of follow-up until the end of 2006, 1,145 cases of colorectal cancer were identified. Higher consumption of red meat was significantly associated with a higher risk of colon cancer among women [multivariate hazard ratios (95%CIs) for the highest versus lowest quintiles (HR): 1.48 (1.01, 2.17; trend p=0.03)], as was higher consumption of total meat among men [HR=1.44 (1.06, 1.98; trend p=0.07)]. By site, these positive associations were found for the risk of proximal colon cancer among women and for distal colon cancer among men. No association was found between the consumption of processed meat and risk of either colon or rectal cancer. In conclusion, red meat intake may modestly increase the risk of colon cancer in middle-aged Japanese, although the highest quintile of red meat consumption could be considered moderate by Western standards.

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