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Health Team

Love red meat? Doctor warns of cancer risk

Posted June 13, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated June 13, 2011 6:20 p.m. EDT

 Ashley Bowman, a Forsyth county resident is looking for a new kidney after numerous life setbacks. Bowman is on the transplant list and in full-time dialysis. Despite what she's facing, she was determined to fulfill her dream.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cancer killer in the United States, and a new study – the most comprehensive ever – finds that people’s diets could be linked to the disease.

Daniel Foster was 45 years old when he received a terrifying diagnosis.

“I was told I had rectal cancer,” he said.

A new report shows that, when it comes to colorectal cancer, a bad diet can be the enemy, specifically eating red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb.

“I always had bad eating habits. I weighed 240 pounds,” Foster said.

Dr. Richard Whelan, chief of the colorectal surgery division at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, says people who eat 7 ounces of red meat per day increase their risk of colorectal cancer by 34 percent, compared with people who do not eat any red meat.

According to the new guidelines, just 18 ounces of red meat is enough for a whole week. Some people get that and more in just one meal.

The guidelines state that processed meats, such as bacon and cold cuts, should be avoided all together.

The American Cancer Research Institute study also says there is convincing evidence that eating fiber-rich foods - such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans – will significantly lower people’s chances of colorectal caner.

Limiting alcohol and getting regular exercise also make a difference.

“I added more fiber to my diet. I do walking, I go bicycle riding, I love to go fishing, and those are all the good things,” Foster said.

After treatment, surgery and lifestyle changes, Foster has been cancer-free for 15 years.

Nearly 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year. Researchers say 45 percent of those cases are preventable.