Meat and fish consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: Results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
International Journal of Cancer (Impact Factor: 5.09). 05/2012; 132(3). DOI: 10.1002/ijc.27637
Source: PubMed


Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death worldwide with large geographical variation, which implies the contribution of diet and lifestyle in its etiology. We examined the association of meat and fish consumption with risk of pancreatic cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). A total of 477,202 EPIC participants from 10 European countries recruited between 1992 and 2000 were included in our analysis. Until 2008, 865 nonendocrine pancreatic cancer cases have been observed. Calibrated relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed using multivariable-adjusted Cox hazard regression models. The consumption of red meat (RR per 50 g increase per day = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.93-1.14) and processed meat (RR per 50 g increase per day = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.71-1.23) were not associated with an increased pancreatic cancer risk. Poultry consumption tended to be associated with an increased pancreatic cancer risk (RR per 50 g increase per day = 1.72, 95% CI = 1.04-2.84); however, there was no association with fish consumption (RR per 50 g increase per day = 1.22, 95% CI = 0.92-1.62). Our results do not support the conclusion of the World Cancer Research Fund that red or processed meat consumption may possibly increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. The positive association of poultry consumption with pancreatic cancer might be a chance finding as it contradicts most previous findings.

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Eating at least two portions of fish per week has been associated with a 23-25% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) compared with those eating no or very little fish; eating fish once a week has been associated with a 15% lower risk of CHD death. Fish intake seems only moderately associated with lower risk of stroke, with results from meta-analyses showing a risk reduction of between 6% and 18% in those eating fish 2-4 times per week compared with those eating none. There have been some inconsistencies in study findings relating to fish intake and risk of CVD. Differences in habitual fish intakes of the study populations may account for some of this inconsistency. Evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on the effect of long-chain n-3 PUFA supplementation on CVD risk has come mainly from secondary prevention studies and is inconsistent. 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EFSA proposes that an intake of 1-2 portions of oil-rich fish per week should be compatible with an adequate DHA supply during pregnancy and lactation. There is some evidence to suggest that higher fish intake, dietary DHA intake and DHA levels in the blood among older adults may be positively associated with a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD). In some prospective studies, risk of AD and dementia in those having the highest fish intake, or the highest blood DHA levels, was about half that of those who ate a little or no fish or had a low blood DHA level. In one prospective study, eating fish once a week was associated with a 60% lower risk of AD compared with those who rarely or never ate fish. However, some studies have found no association, and more evidence will be needed to draw reliable conclusions. Fish intake may be associated with slower cognitive decline, but the evidence is very limited and more studies are needed. 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