A number of epidemiological studies have reported inconsistent findings on the association between meat consumption and lung cancer.
We therefore conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the relationship between meat consumption and lung cancer risk in epidemiological studies.
Twenty-three case-control and 11 cohort studies were included. All studies adjusted for smoking or conducted in never smokers. The summary relative risks (RRs) of lung cancer for the highest versus lowest intake categories were 1.35 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.69) for total meat, 1.34 (95% CI 1.18-1.52) for red meat, and 1.06 (95% CI 0.90-1.25) for processed meat. An inverse association was found between poultry intake and lung cancer (RR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.85-0.97), but not for total white meat (RR = 1.06, 95% CI 0.82-1.37) or fish (RR = 1.01, 95% CI 0.96-1.07).
The relationship between meat intake and lung cancer risk appears to depend on the types of meat consumed. A high intake of red meat may increase the risk of lung cancer by about 35%, while a high intake of poultry decreases the risk by about 10%. More well-designed cohort studies on meat mutagens or heme iron, meat cooking preferences, and doneness level are needed to fully characterize this meat-lung cancer association.