Hot Dogs and Burgers May Increase Early Colorectal Cancer Development

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When you get a colonoscopy, one thing the test looks for is adenomas, a type of polyp that is a benign growth. Not everyone who has adenomas develops cancer but in some cases, adenomas can become cancerous.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAResearch already shows that eating lots of red and processed meats increases the risk for colon cancer, now a review of the research suggests that they may also increase the risk of adenomas.The study was published this week in Cancer Causes Control. It was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund as part of AICR/WCRF’s Continuous Update Project (CUP), an ongoing review of cancer prevention research.

For the analysis, the authors looked at 26 population studies. Nineteen of the studies were case-control, where participants with and without colorectal adenomas recalled their past diet; the rest of the studies were prospective, where researchers first asked about the participants’ diet then the people were followed over time to see who developed colorectal adenomas.

For all the studies together, consuming both red and processed meat linked to close to a 30 percent higher risk of having colorectal adenomas. For every 50 grams of processed meat eaten a day  – about 1 hot dog (2 ounces) – there was a 29 percent increased risk. Every 100 grams of red meat consumed a day – about one burger (4 ounces) – linked to a 27 percent increased risk of colorectal adenomas.

It’s possible that people consuming a lot of red and processed meat are less likely to undergo screenings, note the authors, which may account for the findings. Yet these findings are similar to those of red and processed meat consumption and increased colorectal cancer risk overall. And although more studies are need, this offers clues as to how diet is implicated in colon cancer development.

AICR estimates Americans could prevent half of the cases of colorectal cancer that occur each year with diet, activity, and staying lean. The latest CUP report findings on preventing colorectal cancer are on the Colorectal Cancer page.


Author: Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is at American Institute for Cancer Research, where she writes about the research in the field.

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