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Chicken Cuts Colon Cancer Risk

Eating a lot of chicken may lower your risk of colon cancer, a new study shows.

Maybe it is the selenium and calcium in chicken. Maybe chicken eaters consume less-processed meat — a risk factor for colon cancer. The reason isn't clear.

Whatever the reason, people who ate a lot of chicken had an associated 21 percent lower risk of all adenomas — growths that can be precursors of colon cancer — than those who ate little chicken.

The risk was 39 percent lower for the greater threat of advanced adenomas. The findings come from data collected on 1,520 people who volunteered to have repeated colonoscopies in two large clinical trials.

The report, from Douglas J. Robertson, M.D., M.PH, of Dartmouth Medical School, and colleagues, appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

"Those with higher intakes of chicken were at decreased risk for adenomas and advanced adenomas," Robertson and colleagues report.

This might just be a statistical fluke — except that two previous studies also showed a reduced risk of colon cancer for chicken eaters.

Other study findings were equally provocative.

The study found:

  • No link between fat intake and colon cancer risk.
  • A trend for less colon cancer risk with more daily fiber consumption.
  • Adenoma recurrence was less frequent in people who got their fiber from fruit and vegetables and for those who got their fiber from grains.
  • No clear link between eating red meat and colon cancer.
  • No reduction in risk of colon cancer from eating fish.
  • An increased risk of advanced adenoma — but not less developed adenomas — in people who ate many processed meats.

    "While greater intake of chicken was associated with a reduction in adenoma formation, and processed meats were related to an increased risk, more general measures of red and white meat intake were not significantly associated with [colon cancer risk]," Robertson and colleagues report. "We also did not see a deleterious effect associated with a diet high in fat or red meat."

    SOURCES: Robertson, D.J. American Journal of Gastroenterology, December 2005; vol 100: pp 2789-2795.

    By Sherry Rauh
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D.
    © 2005, WebMD Inc. All rights reserved

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