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Red Meat and Lung Cancer

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Higher Intake, Increased Risk In One Study 

Having red meat a few times a week could increase your lung cancer risk by 20%. A recent National Cancer Institute study looked at the dietary questionnaires of over half-a-million people ages 50-70 and found that those with the highest red meat consumption (the equivalent of four, 8-oz steaks a week) had the highest lung cancer risk. 

The heaviest red meat eaters also incurred a 24% increased risk of colorectal cancer, bolstering previous research which posited a 30-40% increased risk. Processed meat posed particular peril, again echoing earlier findings which linked such cured products with a 67% increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Why the beef grief? Scientists blame carcinogenic compounds that are both produced during high-heat cooking and used in processed meat preparation. 

More women die of lung cancer than breast cancer — in fact, lung cancer is responsible for 29% of all cancer deaths among both genders. While smoking and red meat may increase lung cancer risk, eating lots of fruit and vegetables might lower it by as much as 24% according to one study. Particular fruit and veggies highest in nutrients linked to lung cancer protection include apples, pumpkin, bananas, and butternut squash. One more reason to choose whole foods over supplements: According to research, beta-carotene supplements doubled the risk of lung cancer among former smokers.

Published March 1, 2008

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