Red meat implicated in prostate cancer20 August 2012
The link between cooked red meat and cancer is in the spotlight again, following publication of a report from scientists at the University of Southern California in the journal Carcinogenesis
“We found that men who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30%,” said Marina Stern, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “In addition, men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperatures were 40% more likely to have advanced prostate cancer.”
When considering specific types of red meats, hamburgers - but not steak - were linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, especially among Hispanic men. “We speculate that these findings are a result of different levels of carcinogen accumulation found in hamburgers, given that they can attain higher internal and external temperatures faster than steak,” Stern added.
Researchers also found that men with diets high in baked poultry had a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer, while consumption of pan-fried poultry was associated with increased risk. Stern noted that pan-frying, regardless of meat type, consistently led to an increased risk of prostate cancer. The same pattern was evident in Stern’s previous research, which found that fish cooked at high temperatures, particularly pan-fried, increased the risk of prostate cancer.
The researchers do not know why pan-frying poses a higher risk for prostate cancer, but they suspect it is due to the formation of the DNA-damaging carcinogens—heterocyclic amines (HCAs)—during the cooking of red meat and poultry. HCAs are formed when sugars and amino acids are cooked at higher temperatures for longer periods of time.
“The observations from this study alone are not enough to make any health recommendations, but given the few modifiable risk factors known for prostate cancer, the understanding of dietary factors and cooking methods are of high public health relevance,” said Stern.
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