To conduct a quantitative assessment of red meat or processed meat consumption and kidney cancer.


We extracted data from 12 case-control studies, three cohort studies, and the Pooling Project of Diet and Cancer publication for which 13 international cohorts were evaluated. Random effects meta-analysis models were used to calculate summary relative risk estimates (SRRE) based on high vs. low intake values. Sensitivity and influence analyses were conducted, including assessments of heterogeneity.


The SRRE for all studies that reported results for red meat (included variables labeled ‘red meat’ or single red meat items, such as beef, pork, or liver) was 1.12 (95% CI: 0.98-1.29; p-value for heterogeneity=0.015), and the SRRE using only data from prospective cohorts was 1.02 (95% CI: 0.91-1.15) with minimal heterogeneity (p=0.741). Similarly, in a meta-analysis of the five studies that simultaneously adjusted for smoking, BMI, and total energy intake, the SRRE for red meat was 1.02 (95% CI: 0.91-1.15). No significant association was observed in the meta-analysis of processed meat consumption (SRRE=1.07; 95% CI: 0.94-1.23), although a significant association was observed when only data from cohort studies were analyzed (SRRE=1.19; 95% CI: 1.03-1.37).

Key Conclusions

Although many of the summary results were positive, all were weak in magnitude, most were not statistically significant, and associations were attenuated among studies that adjusted for key potential confounding factors. In summary, the findings of this meta-analysis are not supportive of an independent relation between red or processed meat intake and kidney cancer.