Meat intake and cancer risk: prospective analyses in UK Biobank


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Anika Knuppel1,Keren Papier1,Georgina K. Fensom1,Paul N. Appleby1,Julie A. Schmidt1,Tammy Y. N. Tong1,Ruth C. Travis1,Timothy J. Key1,Aurora Perez-Cornago1
1Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford

Abstract

Background

Red and processed meat has been consistently found to be associated with colorectal cancer but evidence for other cancer sites is limited and few studies have examined the association with poultry intake. We examined associations between red, processed meat and poultry intake and incidence for 20 cancer sites.

Method

We analysed prospective data from 475,023 participants (54 % women) in UK Biobank, who were cancer-free at baseline and reported their meat intake in a touchscreen dietary questionnaire. Trends in risk across baseline meat intake categories were calculated by assigning a mean value to each category using re-measured meat intakes in a subsample (15 %) that completed ≥3 web-based 24h recalls. Multivariable-adjusted Cox regressions were used to determine the association between baseline meat intake and cancer incidence.

Results

During a mean follow-up of 6.9 years, 28,955 participants were diagnosed with any type of cancer. Red and processed meat intake was positively associated with risk of colorectal cancer (hazard ratio (HR) per 70 g/day higher intake of red and processed meat 1.31, 95%-confidence interval (CI) 1.14-1.52). Red meat intake was positively associated with risk of breast cancer (HR per 50 g/day higher intake 1.12, 95%-CI 1.01-1.24) and risk of prostate cancer (HR per 50 g/day higher intake 1.15, 95%-CI 1.03-1.29). Poultry intake was positively associated with risk of cancers of the lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues (HR per 30g/day higher intake 1.16, 95%-CI 1.03-1.32). Only the association with colorectal cancer risk was robust to Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons (adjusted p-value ≤0.0025).

Conclusion

Higher intake of red and processed meat was associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Although the positive associations of red meat with breast and prostate cancer and poultry with cancers of the lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues did not survive correction for multiple testing, they require further investigation.