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Another Caution About Meat And Prostate Cancer Risk

November 9, 2009
According to new research conducted by the National Cancer Institute and published in American Journal of Epidemiology, there is more evidence of the increased risk of diseases from eating a lot of red meat and processed red meats. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer have already been linked to these foods. Past studies have suggested a link to prostate cancer in particular, but because other studies repudiated it, the connection is not considered proven. This study, evaluating over 175,000 men followed for a period of nine years, did draw a thicker line between men who ate the most red meat (beef and pork) and processed meats (bacon, hot dogs and beef or pork sausage) that were grilled or barbecued and a greater risk of developing prostate cancer and advanced cancer in particular. How much more risk is there? The 20 percent of men with the highest intakes of red meat were 12 percent more likely than those who consumed the least amount to develop prostate cancer. Grilling has been implicated in causing cancer because the chemicals released when fatty meats are cooked at high temperatures are known to cause cancer in animals. Separately the nitrites and nitrates, used to preserve cured meats like ham, bacon and sausage, have long suspected of being cancer-causing agents. It’s unclear how soon a definitive connection could be drawn, but with all the other health risks surrounding fatty red meat and processed meats, moderation remains the best approach if you want to keep them on the menu.