Image via WikipediaWomen who frequently eat meat substantially increase their risk for development of breast cancer. Countries with the highest rates of consumption of animal protein correspondingly have the highest rates of breast cancer. A Japanese study showed that affluent women who consumed the highest amount of meat were 8.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than poorer women who rarely, if ever, ate meat. (Hirayama T. Epidemiology of breast cancer with special reference to the role of diet. Prev Med. 1978;7:173-195). Many other studies come to the same conclusion, as cited by The Cancer Project, sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
How meat contributes to increased cancer risk continues to be studied. It is suspected that the residue of growth hormones that are used liberally by the cattle and dairy industries may contribute to the risks. Other known and proven risks are the HCA’s, a family of carcinogenic compounds, which are produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures, such as grilling and frying. Lastly, the high content of saturated fat in meat products is known to be responsible for increased incidence of most types of human cancers.
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and legumes, has been shown to help protect women from breast cancer. (European Journal of Cancer, Volume 36, Issue 5, March 2000, Pages 636-646). In particular, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, have a strong protective effect. A recent study also showed walnuts to be protective. For women recovering from breast cancer, a diet high in vegetables and fruits, combined with exercise, improved survival rates by 50%.