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Poultry meat boosts breast cancer risk too

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Sunday Oct 13, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Poultry meat is often considered safer than red meat when it comes to their impact on the risk of cancer.  But a study published in the Oct 5, 2013 issue of Cancer Causes Control suggests poultry meat consumption can increase risk of breast cancer as much as red meat does in white women, but not African Americans.

If poultry meat consumption indeed increases the risk of breast cancer in white women, then the null association was not found in black women probably because black women are more influenced by other risk factors.

The current study led by U. Chandran from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, NJ, USA and colleagues shows that red meat and poultry meat pose a similar risk of breast cancer among white women.

To be specific, white women in the lowest quartile of processed meat intake were 48% more likely to develop breast cancer, compared with those in the highest quartile of intake.  For unprocessed red meat, the risk was increased by 40% and poultry consumption was linked to a 42% increased risk of breast cancer.
The risk increase was particularly significant for premenopausal women and ER- breast cancer.  Poultry intake was associated with up to 133%  increased risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women and the risk of estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer associated with poultry meat consumption was increased by 155% among white women.  

ER- breast cancer is harder to treat because they are not responsive to estrogen receptor targeted therapies. So ER- breast cancer can be more 

The associations were not found in African women except that processed meat consumption increased the risk of ER+ breast cancer among black women by 36%.  

Included in the study were 803 African American cases, 889 African American controls, 755 Caucasian cases and 701 Caucasian controls, all participating in the Women's Circle of Health Study.
It is not known why African Americans were less susceptible to the influence of meat consumption.  One possible reason is that this group of women may be more likely to be influenced by other risk factors. For instance, black women are more likely to suffer vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to breast cancer in about 75% cases. This means that vitamin D deficiency is an important risk factor for breast cancer among African Americans.

The researchers concluded "Overall, associations between breast cancer risk and consumption of red meat and poultry were of different magnitude in AA (African Americans) and Caucasian women, with further differences noted by menopausal and hormone receptor status in Caucasian women."

This is the first study to compare racial differences in meat consumption and breast cancer risk and reveal some evidence in AA women. (DL)

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