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Meat, poultry and fish and risk of colorectal cancer: pooled analysis of data from the UK dietary cohort consortium

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An Erratum to this article was published on 13 July 2011



Some but not all epidemiological studies have reported that high intakes of red and processed meat are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In the UK Dietary Cohort Consortium, we examined associations of meat, poultry and fish intakes with colorectal cancer risk using standardised individual dietary data pooled from seven UK prospective studies.


Four- to seven-day food diaries were analysed, disaggregating the weights of meat, poultry and fish from composite foods to investigate dose–response relationships. We identified 579 cases of colorectal cancer and matched with 1,996 controls on age, sex and recruitment date. Conditional logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios for colorectal cancer associated with meat, poultry and fish intakes, adjusting for relevant covariables.


Disaggregated intakes were moderately low, e.g. mean red meat intakes were 38.2 g/day among male and 28.7 g/day among female controls. There was little evidence of association between the food groups examined and risk for colorectal cancer: Odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for a 50 g/day increase were 1.01 (0.84–1.22) for red meat, 0.88 (0.68–1.15) for processed meat, 0.97 (0.84–1.12) for red and processed meat combined, 0.80 (0.65–1.00) for poultry, 0.92 (0.70–1.21) for white fish and 0.89 (0.70–1.13) for fatty fish.


This study using pooled data from prospective food diaries, among cohorts with low to moderate meat intakes, shows little evidence of association between consumption of red and processed meat and colorectal cancer risk.

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We thank the participants in these cohort studies for their contribution to this research.


The UK Dietary Cohort Consortium at the MRC Centre for Nutritional Epidemiology in Cancer Prevention and Survival is funded by the Medical Research Council. The cohort studies included in this consortium received funding from: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health, UK; Food Standards Agency, UK; Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands; Medical Research Council, UK; the Stroke Association, UK, and the World Cancer Research Fund.

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TJK is a member of the Vegan Society, UK.

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Correspondence to Timothy J. Key.

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An erratum to this article can be found at

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Spencer, E.A., Key, T.J., Appleby, P.N. et al. Meat, poultry and fish and risk of colorectal cancer: pooled analysis of data from the UK dietary cohort consortium. Cancer Causes Control 21, 1417–1425 (2010).

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