Meat cooked at high temperatures increases cancer risk

Increased consumption of over-cooked meat was linked to kidney cancer in a recent study
By Stephen Feller  |  Nov. 9, 2015 at 9:47 AM
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HOUSTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Charring meat on a grill or in a pan has been thought to increase the formation of cancer-causing compounds for some time. Researchers linked increased consumption of meat cooked at high temperatures with an increased risk for renal cell carcinoma, or kidney cancer, in a new study.

The study comes on the heels of a large review of research by the World Health Organization that said processed meat such as bacon and sausage causes cancer, and that all red meat "probably" causes cancer.

Cooking meat at high temperatures or over an open flame can result in the formation of carcinogens such as 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenyl-imidazo(4,5-b) pyridine, or PhIP, and amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo(4,5-f) quinoxaline, or MeIQx. The association with carcinogen formation has been found both in red and white meat.

Both chemicals can cause changes in DNA that results in the formation of RCC or other types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found the link in surveys of recently diagnosed kidney cancer patients, additionally finding the people with specific genetic variations may be more at risk for RCC than others.

"We found elevated RCC risk associated with both meat intake and meat-cooking mutagens, suggesting independent effect of meat-cooking mutagens on RCC risk," said Dr. Xifeng Wu, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas, in a press release. "Our findings support reducing consumption of meat, especially meat cooked at high temperatures or over an open flame as a public health intervention to reduce RCC risk and burden."

Researchers in the study surveyed eating patterns and collected genetic information for 659 people with renal cell carcinoma and 699 healthy people to estimate consumption of and exposure to meat-cooking mutagens.

The results showed RCC patients ate more red and white meat than the healthy individuals. The study also showed consumption of PhIP increased RCC risk by 54 percent, and nearly doubled the risk with consumption of MelQx. Additionally, people with variations in the gene ITPR2 -- a gene already associated with cancer and obesity risk -- are more vulnerable to the effects of PhIP

The researchers suggest not overcooking meat and using moderation with dietary choices, rather than cutting cooked meat out of diets altogether.

The study is published in the journal CANCER.

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