Consuming red and processed meats may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
Compounds within meat are responsible for triggering cancer. These are called heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and N-nitroso. Nitrates are added to processed meat during production.
Amanda J. Cross, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, MD, USA, conducted one of the first studies into these compounds and their relationship with cancer. Amanda and her team gave questionnaires to 300,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71 to determine what kind of diet they had, the type of meat consumed and how it was prepared and cooked so they could estimate how many compounds were being consumed.
Participants were followed up for eight years and during that time, 854 people had developed bladder cancer. People who consumed the most nitrates and nitrites from all sources including processed meats were at higher risk for bladder cancer.