A number of studies have made a connection between the consumption of red meat and prostate cancer. Now, however, scientists are pointing to a link between poultry and prostate cancer risk. It also appears that eating chicken also can raise the chances of getting malignant melanoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
According to the World Health Organization, both processed meat and red meat are classified as carcinogenic and probably carcinogenic, respectively, and both are linked to prostate cancer as well as colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Some evidence also exists for an association with stomach cancer.
Poultry and prostate cancer risk
A link between poultry consumption and prostate cancer has been investigated previously. In a 2016 meta-analysis, the authors analyzed 27 studies and concluded there was “no association between poultry consumption and PCa [prostate cancer] risk.” In the new research from the University of Oxford, however, the findings were different.
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According to the authors, “Poultry intake was positively associated with risk for malignant melanoma, prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” This is the first study of this kind to uncover this association between eating chicken and prostate cancer.
The study tracked 475,000 British individuals for eight years, analyzed their diets, and compared food intake with health issues. Over the eight-year period, 23,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed. The authors found that a greater intake of chicken consumption corresponded with the development of prostate cancer, malignant melanoma, and lymphoma.
Although the underlying mechanisms were not identified in this study, the authors noted several factors could be involved. One possibility is that poultry may contain a carcinogen or the risk of cancer may be associated with how poultry is cooked. Since previous research has indicated that how people digest the blood from red meat is associated with prostate cancer risk, the same may be true of poultry.
For now, additional research is needed to determine whether the positive association between eating poultry and prostate cancer is viable.
He Q et al. Poultry consumption and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. PeerJ 2016 Feb 2
Knuppel A et al. Meat intake and cancer risk: prospective analyses in UK biobank. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2019 Sep; 73(Suppl 1):A15
World Health Organization. Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. 2015 October