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      Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to the consumption of red and processed meat

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          To estimate the proportion and numbers of cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to consuming red/processed meat.


          We estimated the population attributable fraction (PAF) for cancers causally associated with red/processed meat consumption (colon, rectum) using standard formulae incorporating prevalence of consumption (1995 National Nutrition Survey), relative risks associated with consumption and cancer incidence. We also estimated the proportion change in cancer incidence (potential impact fraction [PIF]) that might have occurred under two hypothetical interventions whereby Australian adults reduced their consumption of red/processed meat from prevailing levels to ≤100 g or ≤65 g per day, respectively.


          An estimated 2,614 cases (18%) of colorectal cancer occurring in Australians in 2010 were attributable to red/processed meat consumption (16% of colon cancers; 23% of rectal cancers). We estimated that if all Australian adults had consumed ≤65 g/day or ≤100 g/day of red/processed meat, then the incidence of colorectal cancer would have been 5.4% (798 cancers) or 1.4% (204 cancers) lower, respectively.


          About one in six colorectal cancers in Australians in 2010 were attributable to red/processed meat consumption.


          Reducing red/processed meat intake may reduce colorectal cancer incidence, but must be balanced against nutritional benefits of modest lean meat consumption.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective,

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            Australian Dietary Guidelines

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              Review of the association between meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer.

              The incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) is rapidly increasing in developing countries, especially among populations that are adopting Western-style diets. Several, but not all, epidemiological and experimental studies suggest that a high intake of meat, especially red and processed meat, is associated with increased CRC risk. Potential reasons for the association between high red and processed meat intake and CRC risk include the content of the meat (e.g. protein, heme) and compounds generated by the cooking process (e.g. N-nitroso compounds, heterocyclic amines). These factors can affect the large intestine mucosa with genotoxicity and metabolic disturbances. Increased bacterial fermentation (putrefaction) of undigested protein and production of bacterial metabolites derived from amino acids may affect colon epithelial homeostasis and renewal. This correlates with the fact that most colonic cancers are detected in the distal colon and rectum where protein fermentation actively occurs. However, there are still large controversies on the relationship between red meat consumption and CRC risk. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to enhance the current understanding on the association between high red and processed meat intakes with CRC risk. A principal focus of this review will be to discuss the meat-related components, such as proteins in the meat, heme, N-nitroso compounds, and heterocyclic amines, and the effects they have upon the large intestine mucosa and the intestinal gut microbiota.

                Author and article information

                Aust N Z J Public Health
                Aust N Z J Public Health
                Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
                John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK )
                October 2015
                06 October 2015
                : 39
                : 5
                : 429-433
                [1 ]QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Queensland
                [2 ]School of Public Health, The University of Queensland
                [3 ]National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Research School of Population Health, Australian National University Australian Capital Territory
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: Professor David C. Whiteman, Cancer Control Group, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Locked Bag 2000, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Queensland 4029; e-mail: david.whiteman@

                The authors have stated they have no conflict of interest.

                © 2015 The Authors

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

                Cancers in Australia in 2010


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