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Red Meat, Fish and Cancer: What Are the Risks?

It's been well established that consuming large amounts of red meat may not be good for you. Less well-known, however, are the benefits that can come from consuming high quantities of fish.

A new study of more than 478,000 people has revealed just what type of effects red meat consumption can have on the body - and how fish can help nullify those effects.

In the study, researchers examined the health records of people in 10 European countries. Among the items measured were daily intakes of red meat, processed meat, and fish. All of the people were free of cancer at the start of the study, but after approximately 5 years, over 1,300 people had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Results: People eating higher amounts of red or processed meat (160 or more grams per day) were significantly more likely to develop bowel cancer than those who ate lower amounts (less than 20 grams per day). Fish intake, on the other hand, seemed to have a protective effect; people who consumed more than 80 grams of fish per day were 31 percent less likely to develop colon cancer, compared to people who consumed less than 10 grams of fish daily. People who ate high amounts of fish and low amounts of red meat were also significantly less likely to have colorectal cancer than those who ate low amounts of fish and high amounts of red meat.

The message to take from this study? If you want to reduce your chances of getting colon cancer, reduce the amount of red meat you eat, and start eating more fish. Your doctor of chiropractic can develop a health plan that includes a healthy balance of fish and meat, along with fruits, vegetables, good sources of dietary fiber, and regular doses of exercise. For more information on health and nutrition, visit

Norat T, Bingham S, Ferrari S, et al. Meat, fish, and colorectal cancer risk: The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 15, 2005;97(12):906-916.