Epidemiologic Burden of Red and Processed Meat Intake on Colorectal Cancer Mortality

Nutr Cancer. 2021;73(4):562-567. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2020.1765259. Epub 2020 May 13.


A clear epidemiologic association has been reported between intake of red processed meat and colorectal cancer. Therefore, an electronic search was performed in Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx) registry, using the keywords "diet high in red meat", "diet high in processed meat", "colon and rectum cancer" and "death". According to this search, red and processed meat intake accounts for 1.77% and 1.18% worldwide colorectal cancer mortality, respectively. The death risk attributable to consumption of red meat linearly increased during the past decade (r = 0.99; p < 0.001), whilst that of processed meat exhibited linear decline (r= -0.97; p < 0.001). The risk of colorectal cancer death for both types of meat is higher in men than in women. Colorectal cancer mortality for red meat is mostly clustered in people <75 years, whilst that attributable to processed meat increases with ageing. A positive relationship can be observed between consumption of both meats and socio-demographic index (SDI). The risk of colorectal cancer deaths attributable to red meat is independently associated with male sex, higher SDI and younger age, whilst that of processed meat is independently associated with higher SDI and older age. Reinforced efforts shall be prioritized for broadening recommendations on decreasing red and processed meat consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Meat Products*
  • Rectal Neoplasms*
  • Red Meat*
  • Risk Factors