Red meat & lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the cancer that killed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is on the upswing in older people, and no one knows why. Now one of the first studies to examine lymphoma's links to diet points an accusing finger at red meat.

Brian Chiu and co-workers at the University of Iowa and elsewhere examined the diet questionnaires filled out in 1986 by 35,000 postmenopausal women who were participating in the Iowa Women's Health Study. By 1992, after 104 of the women had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Chiu compared their diets with those of the remaining women.

The result: Women who ate four or more hamburgers a month had nearly twice the risk of women who ate fewer than four.

"We can't make public health recommendations based on just one study," says Chiu. But, he notes, it's one more reason to "follow the National Cancer Institute's advice to lower your fat intake and eat more fruits and vegetables."

Journal American Medical Association 275: 1315, 1996.

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By BL

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