By swapping red meat for poultry women could drastically reduce their risk of getting breast cancer, according to a new study.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researchers found that while eating more red meat is associated with a greater risk of developing breast cancer, eating poultry such as chicken, turkey and duck is linked to a decreased risk.
“Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen”, said Dr Dale Sandler, who led this study which was published in the International Journal of Cancer.
“Our study adds further evidence that red meat consumption may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer whereas poultry was associated with decreased risk.”
Scientists examined the meat consumption and cooking habits of over 42,000 women, over a seven year period. In a follow-up study, 1,536 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed.
They found that participants who consumed the highest amount of red meat had a 23 per cent greater risk of breast cancer, than those who consumed less.
In addition, women who consumed the highest amount of poultry had a 15 per cent lower risk of the disease, compared to those with the lowest poultry consumption.
Even when factors such as physical activity, obesity and alcohol intake were considered, the findings remained unaffected. No links were established between the way the meat was cooked either.
Dr Sadler said that the study “does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change that can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer”.
A 2014 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health also found a link between a higher red meat intake during early adulthood and an increased risk of breast cancer.
In their study, they wrote: “Replacing red meat with a combination of legumes, poultry, nuts and fish may reduce the risk of breast cancer.”