New research led by the Nutritional Epidemiology Group (NEG) at the University of Leeds found a significant correlation between red meat consumption and an increased risk of colon cancer among women.
The study looked at data from the United Kingdom Women's Cohort Study, which tracked more than 32,000 women in England, Wales, and Scotland over an average of 17 years. The women's dietary and lifestyle habits were recorded by the World Cancer Research Fund.
The NEG researchers then looked at the roles red meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian diets played in the incidence of colon cancer rates.
The researchers noted 462 colorectal cancers and 119 distal colon cancers during the study period.
"When comparing the effects of these diets to cancer development in specific subsites of the colon, they found that those regularly eating red meat compared to a red meat-free diet had higher rates of distal colon cancer -- cancer found on the descending section of the colon, where feces is stored," Science Daily notes.
Colon cancer rates continue to climb across the globe with more than 2.2 million new cases expected by 2030.
"The impact of different types of red meat and dietary patterns on cancer locations is one of the biggest challenges in the study of diet and colorectal cancer," said the study's lead author Dr Diego Rada Fernandez de Jauregui.
"Our research is one of the few studies looking at this relationship and while further analysis in a larger study is needed, it could provide valuable information for those with family history of colorectal cancer and those working on prevention."
Red meat consumption has been linked to numerous other cancers as well as an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. The World Health Organization linked red meat consumption to cancer in 2015.
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