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Red meat and processed meat intake and risk of colorectal cancer

a population-based case–control study

Saliba, Walida,b; Rennert, Hedy S.a,b; Gronich, Naomia,b; Gruber, Stephen B.c,d; Rennert, Gada,b

European Journal of Cancer Prevention: July 2019 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 287–293
doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000451
Research Papers: Gastrointestinal Cancer

To examine the association between red meat subtypes intake and risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) among Jewish and Arabs populations in a unique Mediterranean environment. The Molecular Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer study (n=10 026) is a prospective population-based case–control study in northern Israel. Participants were interviewed in-person about their dietary intake and lifestyle using a questionnaire that included a food-frequency questionnaire. Red meat consumption in Israel was found to be especially low in the Jewish population (1.29±1.45 servings/week), but higher in Arabs (3.0±1.98 servings/week) (P<0.001). Beef was the most commonly consumed red meat by Jews (1.15/1.29 servings/week, 89%) and proportionally less so by Arabs (2.00/3.00, 67%). Processed meat consumption (mostly pork free) was lower among Arabs (0.9±1.56 servings/week) compared with Jews (1.97±2.97 servings/week) (P<0.001). The adjusted odds of CRC per one serving/week of red meat were 1.05 (95% confidence interval: 1.01–1.08) in Jews and 0.94 (0.88–1.01) in Arabs. Compared with no consumption, beef consumption was associated with odds ratio (OR)=0.96 (0.86–1.07) in Jews and 0.94 (0.61–1.45) in Arabs, lamb consumption with OR=1.28 (1.10–1.5) and 1.01 (0.75–1.37), pork consumption with OR=1.44 (1.24–1.67) and 1.07 (0.73–1.56), and processed meat consumption with OR=1.22 (1.10–1.35) and 1.04 (0.82–1.33) in Jews and Arabs, respectively. Overall red meat consumption was associated weakly with CRC risk, significant only for lamb and pork, but not for beef, irrespective of tumor location. Processed meat was associated with mild CRC risk.

aDepartment of Community Medicine and Epidemiology, Lady Davis Carmel Medical Center, Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

bClalit National Cancer Control Center, Haifa, Israel

cUSC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Southern California

dDepartment of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Correspondence to Walid Saliba, MD, MPH, Department of Community Medicine and Epidemiology, Carmel Medical Center, 7 Michal St. Haifa 34362, Israel Tel: +972 4825 0474; fax: +972 4834 4358; e-mail:

Received February 4, 2018

Accepted February 5, 2018

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