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DNA damage and cancer risk, increased due to red meat diet

by Medindia Content Team on February 1, 2006 at 12:28 PM
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DNA damage and cancer risk, increased due to red meat diet

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer found in developed countries.

According to the International Agency for Cancer Research in Lyon, France more than 940,000 cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year. It mainly affects people over 60 years of age and in about 5% of the people the cancer is inherited.

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Health experts tell that in about 70% of the cases diet and nutrition can prevent the cancer. A diet rich in fat, animal protein and refined carbohydrates and lack of exercise are risk factors for the illness.

In Britain 35,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and 16,000 die of the disease.

Red meat affects the DNA and increases the risk of developing bowel cancer.
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The DNA damage to the cells of their colon is significantly more in case of people who eat two portions or more of red meat a day than those who follow a largely vegetarian diet or eat red meat less than once a week. This was published in the Journal Cancer Research.

During the digestion process of the red meat various compounds such as N-nitroso compounds are formed in the large bowel. They attach themselves to DNA and cause it to mutate and lead to bowel cancer.

Researchers studied the effect of red meat on the DNA. They compared the cells of healthy volunteers who were on a vegetarian diet and others eating large quantities of meat and over a period of two weeks.

Professor David Shuker, from the Open University, department of chemistry in Milton Keynes, said that this research would help us to develop a simple screening test so that we can spot DNA damage and advise people to change their diet. This study showed DNA damage in case of healthy individuals and so this would be very useful in case of someone who is predisposed to bowel cancer. The researcher advises a balanced diet with large quantities of fibre and less of red meat as the digestion becomes easier which may help repair damage done to the colon.

Professor Annie Anderson, from the Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research at the University of Dundee and adviser to Bowel Cancer UK, said the rise of ready meals, which are rich in calories contributed to the trend.

World Cancer Research Fund recommends 80g of red meat per day and not more than that for those who are at an increased risk of bowel cancer.

Hence diet plays a very important role in the prevention of cancer.

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