Meat intake and colorectal polyps

Conventional colorectal adenomas are the precursor lesions for most colorectal cancers. In addition to these adenomas, other colorectal polyps are detected during colonoscopy. Sessile serrated polyps (SSPs) represent an alternative pathway to carcinogenesis that may account for 20-30% of colorectal cancer.

Because a diagnostic consensus for SSPs was not reached until 2010, few epidemiologic studies have evaluated risk factors for SSPs.

Martha Shrubsole, PhD, and colleagues have now evaluated intakes of meat, meat cooking methods and inferred meat mutagens with SSP risk in the Tennessee Colorectal Polyp Study. They report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that the highest intakes of red meat, processed meat, well-done red meat and a particular meat-derived mutagen were strongly associated with increased risk of SSPs. SSP risk was increased in comparison to adenomas and hyperplastic polyps.

The findings add to growing evidence that reducing red and processed meat intakes may be important for preventing colorectal cancer.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants CA950103, CA097386, CA122451).


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