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Red Meat increases Lung cancer risks.....


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For decades, nutritionists have advised patients to reduce or eliminate their red meat consumption, citing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colorectal cancer as reasons to abstain.

Lung cancer may be next on the list.

In the December 2012 issue of Annals of Oncology, researchers found that a high intake of red meat can increase a person’s lung cancer risk by as much as 35 percent.

The researchers reviewed 34 studies that explored the relationship between red meat and lung cancer. After making adjustments for the patient’s smoking status, the researchers found a much higher relative risk for lung cancer in patients who had the highest red meat intake.

This risk was even higher (although only by one one-hundredth of a percentage point) in patients with the highest overall meat intake.

A Consolation for Meat Lovers

While some lung cancer risk factors – such as a history of asbestos exposure or a genetic predisposition to the disease – cannot be changed, patients can improve their diets. And while many studies suggest that a plant-based diet is an optimal approach for cancer prevention, those who do choose to consume meat can make smarter protein selections to reduce their risk of disease.

Interestingly enough, the Annals of Oncology study found an inverse association between poultry intake and lung cancer. As the patients’ consumption increased, their lung cancer risk decreased by as much as 10 percent.

Poultry – especially chicken – may be a smarter choice because it is particularly low in heme iron. Salmon and flat fish such as flounder also have low concentrations of the compound.

Many nutrition researchers believe heme iron is responsible for carcinogenesis. Researchers who have linked red meat to other cancers often suggest that high concentration of heme iron increases cell proliferation of all living cells – including malignant ones.

Heme iron also increases the body’s formation of N-nitroso compounds. Several of these compounds are human carcinogens and may cause DNA mutations that lead to cancerous developments.

Making a Place for Red Meat in a Healthy Diet

Most nutritionists do recommend white meat and lean cuts for patients who do include meat in their diet. However, if patients must consume red meat, nutritionists typically recommend a maximum weekly intake of less than 330 grams (11 ounces).

Little – if any – of this meat should be processed. Processed red meats include bacon, sausage, cold cuts, hot dogs and luncheon meats.

Unprocessed options include steak, rack of lamb or pork chops. However, most nutrition professionals agree that these options are still less healthy than white meat, fish, or plant-based proteins such as beans and nuts.

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