Knowledge for better food systems

Report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) on meat consumption and colorectal cancer

The WCRF has released a report on colorectal cancer as part of its Continuous Update Project (CUP) – an ongoing programme to analyse global research on how diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight affect cancer risk and survival. The report confirms that, along with other risk factors, consuming red and processed meat increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

The report reviewed evidence from 99 studies from around the world. Combined, the studies included more than 29 million adults and over 247,000 cases of colorectal cancer.

The key findings are that there is strong evidence that:

  • being physically active decreases the risk of colon cancer
  • consuming wholegrains decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • consuming foods containing dietary fibre decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • consuming dairy products decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • taking calcium supplements decreases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • consuming red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • consuming processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • consuming approximately two or more alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer
  • being tall increases the risk of colorectal cancer

You can find the report here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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