Cook Meat Right for Good Health

Healthnotes Newswire (July 19, 2007)—It’s long been known that people who get plenty of vegetables, fruits, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids from fish, calcium, and vitamin D have a lower risk of colon cancer than people who don’t. According to a new study, it appears that meat-eaters who place orders for medium-rare meats further reduce their risk.

The second most common cancer in the United States, colon cancer generally forms from precancerous growths called polyps. Frequently eating fried or darkly browned meat more than doubled the colon cancer risk in one study, apparently because cancer-causing chemicals form during high-temperature cooking.

The new study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, asked people between 40 and 75 years old who were scheduled for routine colonoscopies to participate; 1,028 people who were found to have colon polyps and 1,577 people whose colonoscopies showed no polyps were included in the final analysis. They were interviewed about their meat-eating and meat-cooking habits and filled out food questionnaires.

Two types of polyps were considered: hyperplastic and adenomatous. Adenomatous polyps are precancerous, and although hyperplastic polyps are frequently benign, they can also develop into cancer.

Hyperplastic polyps were the most closely related to meat consumption. The people who ate the highest amount of total meat and red meat were 50 to 60% more likely to have hyperplastic polyps than those who ate the least meat and red meat. Eating the most well-done meat and well-done red meat increased the risk of large adenomatous polyps by 40 to 60%.

“There is a lot of evidence already that eating meat increases the risk not only for colon cancer but for other cancers as well,” commented Dr. Julianne Forbes, a naturopathic doctor who practices in Maine. “Polyps are a warning sign that the lining of the colon is not healthy. The information from this study might provide more incentive for people with polyps, or even a high risk of polyps because of family history, to change their eating habits from an animal-based diet to a predominantly plant-based diet.”

(Int J Cancer 2007;121:136–42)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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