The meat that cuts your breast cancer risk

Meat gets quite the bad rap these days.

Most experts tell us we need to eat less — if any at all — to avoid some of the scarier diseases… like heart disease and cancer.

They also tell us that those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet live much longer and healthier lives than meat-eaters.

Now, I swore off red meat a while back. It made me feel “off.” But chicken… that’s my weakness.

I don’t think I could ever go off of it completely, because a lifetime where a person can never eat another spicy chicken sandwich or buffalo chicken wings sounds awfully depressing, doesn’t it?

The good news is that if breast cancer is a health concern of yours, as it is of mine, then you may not have to avoid chicken — in fact, you may want to start eating more!

Can a chicken breast fight breast cancer?

The International Journal of Cancer recently released a study that looks at the relationship between eating meat and breast cancer risk… and one result might shock you. (It definitely surprised me!)

One conclusion the researchers from North Carolina’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences came to, was that red meat was tied to a higher chance (23% higher) of getting invasive breast cancer than if you eat smaller amounts. To those who believe red meat is an unhealthy food, this will come as no shock.

But what is shocking is another result the study found — that consuming white meat may help women lower the chance of getting the disease.

Women who chose to eat a lot of white meat seemed to have a reduced risk of getting breast cancer — 15 percent less than those who ate the least white meat in the study!

By the way, this was no small sampling. The study monitored over 42,012 women for more than seven years. Within that time 1,536 women developed invasive breast cancer. Men, who also get breast cancer but in lower numbers, were not included.

The study’s finding runs contrary to the generally accepted image of chicken as being unhealthy, and even to research that previously showed a breast cancer and chicken link: One study found fried chicken upped the risk of breast cancer (though it did say that chicken with the skin removed lowered breast cancer risk). Interestingly this current study found that there was no link between how the poultry was cooked and breast cancer risk.

Poultry and other preventatives for breast cancer

This is also vital research because even after all the headway that has been made by the medical community in treating people with breast cancer, many women continue to suffer and die. Around 12 percent of women can expect a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in their life.

The majority of women who get breast cancer also have no prior incidence of it in their family, so they may not even realize they are at risk. Such cancers happen as a result of genetic mutations, due to aging and just the simple fact of being alive.

Getting older — something most of us are fortunately lucky enough to get to do these days — increases your chance of getting breast cancer.

Currently, over 3 million women in America alone either are being treated for breast cancer or have been treated for the disease in the past.

How does poultry reduce this risk? It’s still a mystery. “While the mechanism through which poultry consumption decreases breast cancer risk is not clear,” senior author Dale P. Sandler, Ph.D. commented, “our study does provide evidence that substituting poultry for red meat may be a simple change that can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer.”

I love a simple change that can potentially improve my health, don’t you? Especially when it’s such a tasty one.

If you’re stuck on ways to include chicken into your diet, we have a list of 28 healthy, slow cooker recipes that include poultry as a star ingredient, like Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken, Slow Cooker Greek Chicken, and Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

It is important to note that including poultry in your diet is of course not the only thing you should be doing to try to prevent breast cancer, despite how encouraging this study is. The CDC recommends you:

  • Watch your weight;
  • Exercise often;
  • Avoid alcohol entirely or at minimum don’t indulge in more than one glass a day;
  • Speak with your doctor about HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or oral contraceptives if you are currently taking either or have been advised to take either;
  • Breastfeed your children if possible;
  • And also speak with your doctor about additional ways to lower breast cancer risk if you have a family history or have changes in brca1 and brca2 genes that are inherited.

Mammograms can help find breast cancer earlier, but also lead to false positives and, often, additional procedures that may be unnecessary. There is exposure to a minor amount of radiation, so it is important to keep all that in mind.


  1. Diet With Red Meat May Increase Breast Cancer Risk — MSN
  2. What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Breast Cancer? — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Replacing ‘beef with chicken’ could reduce breast cancer risk — Medical News Today
  4. U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics —
  5. What Are the Benefits and Risks of Screening? — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  6. Eating Red Meat Tied to Increased Breast Cancer RiskThe New York Times

Easy Health Options Recipes:

Roasted Chicken

In the kitchen with Kelley: Roasted Chicken

I asked a coworker how to roast a chicken. She told me to turn up my oven as high as it would go and let it preheat, then put the seasoned bird in the oven, turn it down and roast it for 20 minutes per pound. She said the hot oven would pulverize the skin, making it crispy and capturing the juices. I tried it. She was right. Continue reading…

It makes cooking healthy SOOO much easier!

28 healthy slow cooker recipes

Not all slow cooker recipes are made with ingredients that are as good for the body as they are for the taste buds. Kelley Martin (of In The Kitchen With Kelley) has saved you the time and effort of searching for nutritious slow cooker options that don’t sacrifice taste. Continue reading…

Gena Hymowech

By Gena Hymowech

Gena Hymowech has over two decades of experience writing for health, entertainment and lifestyle publications, including Yahoo Beauty, Men's Journal and Self. She has covered medical conditions ranging from acne to lupus, and has also worked as an online communications assistant to nutritionist, diabetes educator, mindfulness expert and health author Laura Cipullo. Gena has researched natural options for her own health issues, and enjoys sharing her passion for the subject with others.