Well-done meat linked to prostate cancer

24 November, 2011

A new study suggests that the correlation between prostate cancer and red meat is driven primarily by overcooking on a grill or barbecue.

A team of researchers, led by John Witte of the University of California in San Francisco, studied the meat-eating habits of 470 men with the most aggressive form of the disease in Cleveland, Ohio.

They found that a high intake of well-done or very well-done red meat, particularly ground meat, was positively associated with aggressive prostate cancer. In contrast, consumption of rare or medium-cooked ground beef was not associated with the cancer. This suggests that the key exposure for prostate cancer is not just meat intake, but how it is prepared.

The researchers concluded that the correlation between consumption of grilled, well-done meat and prostate cancer could be attributed to the release of carcinogens during the cooking process.“The mechanism through which the consumption of well-done meat may increase prostate cancer risk is via the release of mutagenic compounds during cooking,” stated the report.

The study findings are supported by a previous large cohort study of 175,343 men for nine years, which found that only grilled/barbecued meats showed a significant positive association between consumption and prostate cancer. Pan-fried, microwaved and broiled meats showed no such assocation.

However, Dr Rachel Thompson, of the World Cancer Research Fund, told the Daily Mail that the results could have been skewed by men looking for something to blame for their disease and misremembering what they had eaten.

The study was published in online journal PLoS ONE.

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