FRIDAY, June 5, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Eating meat doesn't increase postmenopausal women's risk for breast cancer, new research has found.
Previous studies looking at whether eating meat and increased breast cancer risk might be linked have yielded inconsistent results.
In the new study, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University analyzed data on 120,755 older American women, including the types of food the women ate, how often they ate certain foods and how they prepared their meat.
During eight years of follow-up, 3,818 (about 3 percent) of the women developed breast cancer. The researchers found no evidence that the amount of red or white meat consumed or meat-cooking methods was associated with increased breast cancer risk.
The study, in the May 15 issue of the International Journal of Cancer, also found that eating meat or meat cooked at high temperatures, such as when it's grilled or broiled, didn't increase the risk of breast cancer among obese women, smokers, drinkers, those without children, users of menopausal hormone therapy, women with low levels of physical activity and those who ate few fruits or vegetables.
Because the study and earlier studies did not look at the diets of younger women and breast cancer risk, "we haven't ruled out the possibility that eating meat and exposure to meat mutagens at a younger age -- particularly during adolescence when the breasts are developing -- may increase one's risk of cancer," lead author Geoffrey C. Kabat, a senior epidemiologist, said in a university news release. Meat mutagens, it said, are cooking-created chemicals that can cause DNA mutations.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about chemicals in cooked meats.