Cancer Council urges caution on interpretation of new study findings

Cancer Council is reassuring Queensland women to follow current national dietary guidelines on meat consumption, following the release of a US research study on meat intake in early adulthood and breast cancer.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal today, is the first study of its kind to investigate the association between dietary protein sources in early adulthood and risk of breast cancer.

Authors of the report concluded that higher red meat intake in early adulthood may be a risk factor for breast cancer, and replacing red meat with a combination of legumes, poultry, nuts and fish may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

However, Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was important to caution that the findings were not consistent with the findings of other prospective studies.

“Potential limitations to this study need to be considered,” Ms Clift said.

“For example, the study did not consider race/ethnic specific risk factors and relied on self-reporting, which can sometimes result in study measurement errors.

“The study findings also suggest that other unmeasured or inadequately measured factors may have confounded the true association.

“There are two key points Queensland women should take away from this study, the first is the need for ongoing research into the association between red meat and cancer risk, and lifestyle-related cancer risks.

“The second is the importance of a healthy diet and weight, by following national dietary guidelines on meat consumption, which recommend moderate consumption of lean red meat and limited consumption of processed meats.

“A healthy diet and healthy weight are important factors in reducing cancer risk, along with not smoking, reducing alcohol intake and taking part in cancer screening.

“We recommend people consume only moderate amounts of unprocessed lean red meat to reduce their risks of cancer.

“A moderate amount of meat is 65–100 g of cooked red meat, three to four times a week.”

Up to one third of all cancers are preventable through healthy lifestyle factors.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

Queensland communities are invited to join the QUEST to live a healthier life at

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171