Women who eat a diet rich in red meat double their risk of developing breast cancer, a US study claims.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School monitored 90,000 women for more than a decade and found a striking correlation between a high-meat diet and developing cancer.

One of the researchers suggested it could be linked to the growth promoting hormones used widely in US animal production.

British experts claim the study is flawed. There has been so much criticism from scientists here that the MLC's Richard Lowe said there was little left for him to say.

"We're not overly concerned this will create a mass panic among female meat eaters.

"The practice of giving hormones to animals is banned in the EU. And all risks of cancer have to be put in context - if people reduce meat consumption they expose themselves to other problems, such as iron deficiency."