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Do You Gamble With Eating Meat?

May. 16, 2014|843 views


New research published in the journal, PLOS Genetics suggests that up to one-third of people possess genetic variants that make them more susceptible to colorectal cancer when they eat processed meats. People with the greatest intakes of red and processed meats—and the lowest intakes of fruits, vegetables and fiber—are at greatest risk for the disease, according to the study’s authors. 

“Our results suggest that genetic variants may interact with diet and in combination affect colorectal cancer risk, which may have important implications for personalized cancer care and provide novel insights into prevention strategies,” wrote investigators. In other words, for about one-third of the population, it’s a really good idea to avoid processed meats if you’re interested in lowering your risk of developing colorectal cancer. 

Excluding skin cancer, this type of cancer is the third most common among men and women in the United States. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is one in 20. Deaths from this dread disease have been on the decline, thanks to better screening and treatment. But it’s still responsible for about 50,000 deaths annually, and more than 130,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. 

Until screening for the newly identified genetic variants becomes practical and inexpensive, there will be no way to be sure if you’re one of the unlucky 30% of individuals who can’t safely eat processed meats. Which suggests that we all might want to avoid these foods to be on the safe side. And maybe learn to love a new vegetable or two, for extra measure.

Tags:  genetics, cancer risks