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Cohort study
Higher red meat intake in early adulthood is associated with increased risk of breast cancer; substitution with different protein sources such as legumes and poultry may help
  1. Cynthia A Thomson
  1. Division of Health Promotion Sciences, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and The University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Cynthia A Thomson, Department of Health Promotion Sciences, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, 1295 N Martin Street, Drachman Hall, Room A260, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; cthomson{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Advice suggests that less red meat and more plant proteins in the diet reduces risk for several chronic diseases, including cancer. Farvid and colleagues’ findings suggest a benefit in relation to breast cancer risk reduction.

  • Subgroup analysis of protein–breast cancer associations for menopausal status and alternately subtypes of breast cancer could improve knowledge and ultimately how we advise our patients.


Evidence evaluating associations between protein consumption and breast cancer provides inconsistent findings and sparse evidence of elevated risk with red meat intake. The study by Farvid and colleagues used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II cohort to improve on earlier work by evaluating dietary exposures earlier in adulthood. The large sample afforded …

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  • Competing interests None.