Current evidence suggests that high red meat intake is associated with increased colorectal cancer risk.
High fish intake may be associated with a decreased risk, but the existing evidence is less convincing.
Dr Riboli and colleagues prospectively followed 478,040 men and women free of cancer at enrollment between 1992 and 1998 in 10 European countries.
| The absolute risk of colorectal cancer with red meat intake is 1.7% within 10 years
|Journal of the National Cancer Institute|
The research team collected information on diet and lifestyle at baseline.
After a mean follow-up of 5 years, the researchers documented 1329 incident colorectal cancers.
The team then examined the relationship between intakes of red and processed meat, poultry, and fish and colorectal cancer risk.
The research team used a proportional hazards model adjusted for factors including age, sex, energy (nonfat and fat sources), height and weight.
The team also adjusted for factors of work-related physical activity, smoking status, dietary fiber and folate intake, and alcohol consumption.
The team used a calibration substudy based on 36,994 subjects to correct hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals for diet measurement errors.
All statistical tests were two-sided and the hazard ratio adjusted for factors that were stratified by center.
The team found that colorectal cancer risk was positively associated with intake of red and processed meat and inversely associated with intake of fish.
The researchers observed that colorectal cancer risk was not related to poultry intake.
The team noted that correcting for measurement error strengthened the associations between colorectal cancer and red and processed meat intake and for fish.
The researchers observed an absolute risk of 1.7% for colorectal cancer within 10 years for a subject aged 50 years in the highest category of red and processed meat intake.
The absolute risk for colorectal cancer in the lowest category of red and processed meat intake was 1.3% within 10 years.
In addition, the team noted an absolute risk of 1.9% for subjects in the lowest category of fish intake and 1.3% in the highest category of fish intake.
Dr Riboli and team conclude, “Our data confirm that colorectal cancer risk is positively associated with high consumption of red and processed meat and support an inverse association with fish intake.”