Study links eating red meat to breast cancer

By • Published: February 6th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

“Where’s the beef?”

That’s a question women may stop asking as often at the dinner table if a recent Harvard University study’s findings prove true.

Harvard researchers recently reported that the more red meat a woman eats prior to middle age, the more at risk she is for developing the most common form of breast cancer.

The finding came from a twelve-year study that tracked the health of ninety-thousand nurses. The study shows that women who piled one and a half servings or more of beef, pork or lamb on their plates each day were twice as likely to develop the disease as women who ate three servings or less each week. A hamburger equals about one serving.

Harvard researchers focused on the type of breast cancer stimulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Of the women in the study, those with this form of breast cancer were often avid red-meat eaters in their twenties, thirties and forties.

The one thing researchers don’t know is why. There are a few theories. Growth hormones given to cattle could linger in meat and spur cancerous cells to grow. Also, chemicals in processed meats have been linked to colon cancer and tumors.

More studies are needed to corroborate this connection, but experts say cutting back on red and processed meats is still a good idea for women.

Women can still have their steak and eat it too. They may just want to do it a little less often.