A new study published in Cancer, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society, says that consuming red and processed meats is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
There are compounds within meat that 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, USA, conducted one of the first ever 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 were having, the type of meat consumed and how it was prepared and cooked so they could estimate how many compounds were being consumed.
The participants were followed up for eight years and during that time, 854 people had developed bladder cancer. People who had the highest consumption of nitrates and nitrites from all sources including processed meats, had a 29% increased risk of getting bladder cancer compared with those who consumed the smallest amounts.
This backs up the findings of previous studies that observed a heightened risk of bladder cancer from processed meats. This new study explains why.
“Our findings highlight the importance of studying meat-related compounds to better understand the association between meat and cancer risk,” said Dr. Cross. “Comprehensive epidemiologic data on meat-related exposures and bladder cancer are lacking; our findings should be followed up in other prospective studies,” she added.
In the meantime, you could consider becoming a vegetarian, particularly if there is a history of bladder cancer in your family.
Source: Meat and components of meat and the risk of bladder cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study.” Leah M. Ferrucci, Rashmi Sinha, Mary H. Ward, Barry I. Graubard, Albert R. Hollenbeck, Briseis A. Kilfoy, Arthur Schatzkin, Dominique S. Michaud, and Amanda J. Cross. CANCER; Published Online: August 2, 2010 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.25463).