You have probably noticed reports on yet another new study announced this week that seems to suggest that women eating higher amounts of red meat and poultry may be at a higher risk for breast cancer. Although the connection isn’t causative, this study has a twist that is even more confounding: The additional risk is only true for white women, not African-American women.
“Most breast cancer studies have been conducted in [white] women,” senior study author Dr. Elisa Bandera, an epidemiologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, was quoted in an institute news release. “Our study provides new information on the role animal foods play on breast cancer development in women of European and African ancestry.”
Bandera and her fellow researchers used dietary questionnaires completed by 976 black women and 873 white women with breast cancer, and 1,165 black women and 865 white women without cancer. Eating meat raised the risk of breast cancer for white women, but didn’t impact African-American women.
What do we make of this report? Only what the investigators themselves stated in the news release.
Urmila Chandran, the study’s lead author and research teaching specialist, said that, “Being that this study may be one of the first to examine this association in [black] women, results from this group are not conclusive, and more investigation is needed to replicate these findings.”
Changing bad habits
There is another new study on lifestyle habits that is equally urgent and much more conclusive, however, and it is one that doesn’t require more investigation to reach a conclusion.
According to a report released this week at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, the excessive hours people spend sitting in office chairs or loafing around on their couches tends to increase the deposition of a particularly unhealthy form of fat around the heart.
By itself, that isn’t exactly an earth-shattering revelation. But here’s the bad news: Once that unhealthy pericardial fat builds up, it stays in place even when people exercise regularly.
Using CT scans of more than 500 older Americans, the researchers found that excess time spent sitting was “significantly related to pericardial fat [development] around the heart,” study lead author Britta Larsen, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of cardiovascular epidemiology at the University of California, San Diego, stated in a news release from AHA.