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EPIC Findings on Lymphoma

In a study of a half million people, which was most associated with the risk of developing lymphoma? Red meat, processed meat, poultry, offal, eggs, or milk?

April 6, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Images thanks to Rainer Zen, MCBSun Ladder, Amidelalune, Carsten Niehaus, and Renee Comet for the National Cancer Institute via Wikimedia Commons.

Transcript

Yes, the incidence of all malignant cancers combined was lower among fish-only eaters and vegetarians compared to the healthy meateaters, but the most striking difference between the dietary groups was in the risk for the group of cancers that include lymphomas and myeloma. Since they factored out other lifestyle differences between the meateaters and vegetarians—similar smoking exercise weight fruit and veggie consumption—they concluded that meat itself may be the culprit, potentially due to the mutagenic compounds or viruses in meat, but that raises the question, what type of meat?
To get at that level of detail you would need to look at a lot of people, so they enrolled the help of not just any study but the EPIC study, E.P.I.C., the largest forward-looking study on diet and cancer in human history, following a half a million people for over ten years now.
What type of meat was the worst? They looked at red meat—beef and pork—processed meat, like bacon, ham and sausage, poultry—chicken and turkey, also offal, which, true to its name, means entrails and organs- in practical terms liver heart kidneys, pancreas blood, thymus, brains, stomach feet, tongue tail as well as the head and eyeballs. They also looked at eggs and dairy. Which was most significantly associated with the risk of developing lymphoma? Red meat, processed meat, poultry, offal, eggs, or milk?
It was poultry consumption, associated with a significantly increased risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, all grades of follicular lymphoma, B-cell lymphomas in general, including B-cell chronic lymphatic leukemia (including small lymphocytic leukemia and prolymphocytic lymphocytic leukemia.
Up to triple the rates for every 50 grams of daily poultry consumption. A cooked chicken breast averages 220 grams, so that’s for just a quarter of a chicken breast worth of poultry.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Why was there so much more lymphoma and leukemia risk among those eating just a small serving of chicken a day? That's the subject of my nextNutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day (coming on Monday). And see yesterday’s video for a discussion of overall cancer rates. The EPIC study also compared obesity rates in omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans. See Thousands of Vegans Studied. There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Poultry and Penis CancerPoultry Paunch: Meat & Weight Gain, Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet, Eating Green to Prevent Cancer, How To Reduce Dietary Antibiotic Intake, and  How Tumors Use Meat to Grow

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Why was there so much more lymphoma and leukemia risk among those eating just a small serving of chicken a day? That’s the subject of my next NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day (coming on Monday). And see yesterday’s video for a discussion of overall cancer rates. The EPIC study also compared obesity rates in omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans. See Thousands of Vegans Studied. There are also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/hemodynamic/ HemoDynamic

      You are my Morning Report! To bad you don’t post on the weekends!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/randy/ randy

    Not sure of the technical difficulty but this particular video will not load to play.
    Thanks.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/vetstud/ vetstud

      It’s playing for me. Could the trouble be at your end? Anyone else having a problem, I wonder?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/randy/ randy

      Working great presently. Thanks!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/vetstud/ vetstud

    Hm. It’s playing fine for me. Could the trouble be at your end?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/wilscot/ wilscot

    Didn’t this study also find a significantly higher rate of bowel cancer among the vegetarians? What is your take on that?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/synergy/ Synergy

      Dr. Greger did say the study had some interesting findings that he would address later before he quoted the conclusion in the previous video “Vegetarians Versus Healthy Omnivores”. I take that as meaning he will address that issue over the course of the next week.

      It does appear to contradict all of the common risk factors, though. “Low fiber, high fat diets. Sedentary lifestyle. Obesity. Diabetes. Smoking, and alcohol consumption” are a number of risk factors provided by the Mayo Clinic that usually aren’t attributes of vegetarians. Old age is a risk factor, perhaps mean age was higher for the vegetarian participants? Perhaps the excessive low calorie handicap (just as much fruits/veggies as omnivores) played a role. Inflammatory bowel diseases are a risk factor, which could be related to grain consumption in the vegetarian group assuming they had a gluten intolerance or celiac, diagnosed or not. There are a number of possible confounding variables, but I haven’t bothered to spoil the fun of this video series by checking myself.

  • Lynne

    Would that still be the case if it was organic, cage free, grain fed chickens?

  • rob

    Why do you think follicular lymphoma was increase with yogurt and cheese consumption? Statistical variance?