11/02/2012 01:39 pm ET Updated Nov 03, 2012

Meat Consumption And Cancer Risk Varies By Race, Study Shows

That Meatless Monday routine you've been trying to adopt may do your cardiovascular system some good, but according to new research from The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, it has little bearing on your chances of developing breast cancer.

In what experts are calling the first examination of African-American women and how their consumption of meat impacts their breast cancer risk, researchers found that the link between eating meat and developing breast cancer actually varies by race.

Among 873 Caucasian women with breast cancer and 865 without, those with the highest consumption of unprocessed red meat and poultry appeared to have an increased breast cancer risk compared to Caucasian women with the lowest intake. In African-American women, however, no clear association was found between eating any kind of meat and breast cancer risk.

In fact, the study's findings suggests that eating red meat might even reduce the risk of a certain kind of tumor in black women.

Lead author, Urmila Chandran, a research teaching specialist at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, noted that since this study may be one of the first to examine this association in African-American women, further research is needed. Yet still, “this research supports encouraging Caucasian women to limit their intake of both red meat and poultry in order to reduce their risk of breast cancer," Chandran said in a release.

In addition to an overall uptick in breast cancer risk among more frequent consumers of red meat and poultry, Chandran also found that incremental increases in consumption (500 grams per week of all red meat and 200 grams per week of poultry) also seemed to increase breast cancer risk in the Caucasian group. The link was even greater among those who haven't reached menopause yet.

Earlier this week researchers at the Fifth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities uncovered similar variations in the link between breast cancer outcomes and weight. Among black women in their study, those with a higher waist-to-hip ration were more likely to die from the disease, an association not seen in the white and Latina group. Instead, researchers noted increased mortality among white women with a higher BMI.

Their research, along with Chandran's joins a growing body of evidence suggesting that breast cancer recommendations and treatment may need to be more personalized.



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