Meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: an evaluation based on a systematic review of epidemiologic evidence among the Japanese population

Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2014 Jul;44(7):641-50. doi: 10.1093/jjco/hyu061. Epub 2014 May 19.


Objective: The association between meat consumption and colorectal cancer remains inconsistent among Asians. The present study systematically evaluated and meta-analyzed epidemiologic studies on the association between consumption of total and specific meats and colorectal cancer risk among Japanese.

Methods: Original data were obtained from MEDLINE searched using PubMed or from searches of the Ichushi database, complemented with manual searches. The associations were evaluated based on the strength of evidence, the magnitude of association and biologic plausibility. A meta-analysis was performed according to total meat, red and processed meat as well as poultry and site-specific cancers.

Results: Six cohort studies and 13 case-control studies were identified. In cohort studies, most investigations found no association between total meat consumption and colon/rectal cancer, and several studies showed a weak-to-moderate positive association of red meat and processed meat consumption with colon/rectal cancer. The majority of case-control studies showed no association between total meat consumption and colon and rectal cancer; however, several ones reported a weak-to-strong positive association of red and processed consumption with colon and rectal cancer. In meta-analysis, the summary relative risks (95% confidence interval) for the highest versus lowest categories of red meat consumption were 1.16 (1.001-1.34) and 1.21 (1.03-1.43) for colorectal and colon cancer, respectively, and those for processed meat consumption were 1.17 (1.02-1.35) and 1.23 (1.03-1.47) for colorectal and colon cancer, respectively. Poultry consumption was associated with lower risk of rectal cancer; summary relative risk (95% confidence interval) was 0.80 (0.67-0.96).

Conclusions: High consumption of red meat and processed meat possibly increases risk of colorectal cancer or colon cancer among the Japanese population.

Keywords: Japanese; colorectal cancer; epidemiology; meat; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Meat Products / adverse effects
  • Meat Products / statistics & numerical data
  • Meat* / adverse effects
  • Meat* / statistics & numerical data
  • Poultry
  • Rectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Rectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk