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Red and Processed Meats Linked to Higher Colon Cancer Mortality

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Red and Processed Meats Linked to Higher Colon Cancer Mortality

According to a new study, the survival rate of patients suffering from colon cancer decreases if patients consume excessive red mead and processed meats. The study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Led by professor McCullough, the study comes as a support for precedent studies that suggest that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is more beneficial to colon cancer patients, unlike a diet rich in red meat and processed meats. McCullough affirms that the study accentuates the importance of a healthy diet throughout one’s lifetime.

After studying data from almost 2,300 patients suffering from colon cancer, the research team revealed that patients on a rich meat diet had a lower survivability rate than patients with a diet rich in vegetables and fruit. More specifically, the data published in the study shows that patients who served red meat and processed meat at least 4 times a week had a mortality rate as much as 79% higher than that of other patients. Moreover, patients with a high-intake of meat prior to their colon cancer diagnostic had a higher mortality rate than others.

Nevertheless, according to Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, the study doesn’t show that the cause of the higher mortality is in fact red meat or processed meats. Meyerhardt affirms that there isn’t enough information about the role of meat in the mortality rates of colon cancer patients. However, the study is still suggestive for the role that meat plays in the overall health of these patients.

The data taken from more than 2,300 United States patients who were diagnosed with colon cancer was examined for this study. During the study, more than 1,000 of the studied patients have died, with approximately 400 patients dying from colon cancer. All of the  patients who took part in the study were also part of a larger study involving nutrition and cancer. They had been regularly completing questionnaires about their diet, prior to their colon cancer diagnostic. Due to this fact, McCullough and his team managed to analyze the impact of the patient’s diet on their survivability.

The analysis of data received from patients prior to their cancer diagnostic reveals that a high intake of meat, specifically more than 7 meat meals per week for men and more than 6 meat meals per week for women, increased the mortality rate by almost 30%. However, most of the recorded deaths were caused by cardiovascular problems. Only the patients who continued to eat a large amount of meat after being diagnosed with colon cancer were found to have an increased mortality rate.

The reasons behind a higher mortality rate between meat consumers is not yet fully understood, according to Meyerhardt. However, precedent studies have shown that meat is responsible for the production of chemical compounds, such as N-nitroso compounds and heterocyclic amines, that are responsible for damaging the colon cells. In theory, this is the one of the processes that can lead to the onset of colon cancer, yet it doesn’t explain how it could affect patients’ survivability.

Meyerhardt suggests that based on recent findings, patients diagnosed with colon cancer should reduce the intake of red meat and processed meat. The results of the study also suggest that cutting down on the meat intake improves survival rates of patients, whether they are diagnosed with colon cancer or not. However, according to both Meyerhardt and McCullough, reducing the amount of red meat is not enough. According to them, a healthy diet also includes an increased amount of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and vegetable oils.