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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - New research by scientists at Harvard University suggests higher red meat intake in early adulthood may increase a person's risk of breast cancer.

The study, published by BMJ.com, also indicates that women who eat more legumes, poultry, nuts and fish may be at a lower risk in later life. It was completed by researchers at Harvard University, who analyzed data from more than 88,000 women ages 26 to 45 dating back to 1991. Initial results of the study were first published in 2006 and showed a preliminary link between eating red meat and breast cancer after 12 years.

This latest research confirms those earlier findings.

"Nutrition is one the most powerful determinants of an individual's health," explains Tom Kottke, MD, a medical director with HealthPartners. "Research like this really points to the importance of a healthy diet, and highlights steps individuals can take to reduce their chances of disease and illness."

Medical experts have long cautioned that a diet loaded in red meat can increase the risk of colon and pancreatic cancers, but there has been less evidence for its role in breast cancer.

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