Whether red and processed meat consumption is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer remains unclear. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarise the evidence from prospective studies of red and processed meat consumption and pancreatic cancer risk.
Relevant studies were identified by searching PubMed and EMBASE databases through November 2011. Study-specific results were pooled using a random-effects model.
Eleven prospective studies, with 6643 pancreatic cancer cases, were included in the meta-analysis. An increase in red meat consumption of 120 g per day was associated with an overall relative risk (RR) of 1.13 (95% confidence interval (CI)=0.93–1.39; Pheterogeneity<0.001). Red meat consumption was positively associated with pancreatic cancer risk in men (RR=1.29; 95% CI=1.08–1.53; Pheterogeneity=0.28; five studies), but not in women (RR=0.93; 95% CI=0.74–1.16; Pheterogeneity=0.21; six studies). The RR of pancreatic cancer for a 50 g per day increase in processed meat consumption was 1.19 (95% CI=1.04–1.36; Pheterogeneity=0.46).
Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that processed meat consumption is positively associated with pancreatic cancer risk. Red meat consumption was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men. Further prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings.