Meat consumption and cancer risk: a critical review of published meta-analyses

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016 Jan;97:1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2015.11.008. Epub 2015 Nov 17.


Dietary habits play a substantial role for increasing or reducing cancer risk. We performed a critical review of scientific literature, to describe the findings of meta-analyses that explored the association between meat consumption and cancer risk. Overall, 42 eligible meta-analyses were included in this review, in which meat consumption was assumed from sheer statistics. Convincing association was found between larger intake of red meat and cancer, especially with colorectal, lung, esophageal and gastric malignancies. Increased consumption of processed meat was also found to be associated with colorectal, esophageal, gastric and bladder cancers. Enhanced intake of white meat or poultry was found to be negatively associated with some types of cancers. Larger beef consumption was significantly associated with cancer, whereas the risk was not increased consuming high amounts of pork. Our analysis suggest increased risk of cancer in subjects consuming large amounts of red and processed meat, but not in those with high intake of white meat or poultry.

Keywords: Cancer; Meat; Neoplasm; Processed meat; Red meat; Risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Meat*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Poultry
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors