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Cancer risk from overcooked meat

20th April 2010

Although barbecued meat creates an appetising aroma, overcooked, barbecued, and grilled meat may significantly increase people's risk of bladder cancer, according to a recent US study.

friedchicken

Researcher Jie Lin, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, said that it was well known that high temperature-cooked meat generated heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which led to bladder cancer.

Study co-author and lead researcher Xifeng Wu, of the University of Texas, said that the research team recommended people limit their red meat consumption to 500 grammes per week, and avoid processed meat altogether.

For the study, the researchers examined 884 people who had bladder cancer and 878 who did not, matching them all by age, gender, and ethnicity.

They found that certain genetic traits seemed to contribute to bladder cancer development, and made some people more at risk than others.

The researchers derived some of their results from questionnaires that they handed out to the subjects.

They also sampled the subjects' DNA, and looked at the way the body metabolises cooked and well-done meat in different types of people.

Following the questionnaire, DNA sample, and other initial consultations, the researchers followed each of the subjects for 12 years.

The researchers found that people who ate lots of steak, pork chops, and bacon were two and a half times more likely to get cancer of the bladder.

Wu said that his team's research reinforced the relationship between diet and cancer, and strongly supported what people always suspected about eating red meat.

Charred meat has also already been linked to pancreatic cancer, in other studies.

Panagiota Mitrou, of the World Cancer Research Fund, said that when his organisation looked at all the evidence on meat and cancer, they could not find anything that suggested meat increases people's risk of bladder cancer.

He said that, however, there was convincing evidence that red and processed meat increased people's risk of bowel cancer, and that his organisation recommended that people aim to limit consumption of red meat to 500 grammes per week at cooked weight.

Alison Ross of Cancer Research UK said that smoking was the most important preventable cause of bladder cancer, and that people should give it up in order to cut their chances of getting the disease.

The UK Food Standards Agency said that people could reduce their risk of ingesting HCAs by increasing the distance between the flames and the food when barbecuing or grilling.

 

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