Swapping Red Meat for Chicken May Lower Cancer Risk 

Swapping Red Meat for Chicken May Lower Cancer Risk 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women aside from skin cancer. It affects around 1 in 8 women in the United States during their lifetime. 1


However, many factors influence the chance of a woman developing breast cancer. Due to the variety of these factors, some which are environmental and lifestyle choices, causes can be difficult to pinpoint. 


That is to say, recent research often focuses on factors that lead to cancer which we can control such as nutrition. 


A recent study in The International Journal of Cancer reports that consuming poultry instead of red meat may lower breast cancer risk after gathering data from over 40,000 women. 2


Red meat and breast cancer?


The data, derived from the Sister Study, included participants from the U.S. and Puerto Rico who were 35–74 years old. Participants also provided information that included their lifestyle factors, medical history, height, weight, diet, and other demographic information.


The participants also reported details about their food consumption, including type of meat consumption, portion sizes and level of “doneness” of meat. 


Throughout the study, the research team reported 1,536 cases of breast cancer.


At the end of the study, the scientists concluded that women who ate more red meat had a 23% higher chance of developing breast cancer. 2


However, previous studies have not produced similar results. Some researchers have found no association, whereas others have shown a weak relationship between meat consumption and cancer. 


Poultry and breast cancer risk?


The scientists calculated that those who ate the most poultry had a 15% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with those who ate little poultry. 


The scientists also controlled for a range of factors, including level of physical activity, household income, family history of cancer, race,  vegetable consumption, dairy consumption, body mass index (BMI), birth control usage, and also alcohol consumption. Even with these factors considered, the results were still significant.


The effects of cooking methods on cancer risk 


An earlier study discovered high consumptions of fried chicken increased breast cancer risk while intake of skinless chicken reduced risk.


A further study concluded that chicken cooked by any method was “significantly protective” against breast cancer. 3 The researchers in the latest study, however, found no link between the way people cooked meat and breast cancer risk.


However, other researchers report no links between meat consumption and breast cancer. 


As always, research must continue before we reach a solid conclusion about the role of meat in breast cancer.




Limitations of the study


Although the study had a large number of participants, limitations, of course, exist. For example, the study was observational. It cannot easily explain cause and effect.


Furthermore, dietary information was only recorded at the beginning of the study. Participants may have had dietary changes throughout the nearly seven years of the study. 


CCMH is proud to offer cancer care right here on our campus at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma. To learn more, visit their website at ccswok.com



1 American Cancer Society. How Common is Breast Cancer? 18 September 2019.

2 International Journal of Cancer. Jamie J. Lo, Yong-Moon Mark Park, Rashmi Sinha and Dale P. Sandler. Association Between Meat Consumption and Risk of Breast Cancer: Findings from the Sister Study. 2019.

3 Science Direct. Alacro L. Ronco, Eduardo De Stefani, Alicia Fabra.White meat intake and the risk of breast cancer: a case-control study in Montevideo, Uruguay. 20 May 2oo2.



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