In past studies, eating red meat has been linked to an
increased risk of developing several types of cancer. A number of
studies have identified various compounds in meat that might account for
this association, with a lot of attention being paid to added nitrate and
nitrite in processed meats. The studies linking the consumption of meat with
disease keep rolling in; the latest links eating red meat cold cuts to a
29-percent higher risk of having bladder cancer.
Amanda J. Cross,
PhD, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, and colleagues conducted
the study to assess the relationship between intake of these meat-related
compounds and the risk of developing bladder cancer. They used information
collected through questionnaires to assess the types of meat eaten as well
as how meat was prepared and cooked to estimate the intake of these
meat-related compounds. The study (the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study,
published online in CANCER, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer
Society) shows that there is �a positive nonlinear association for red meat
cold cuts� and bladder cancer.
The study followed approximately
300,000 men and women aged 50 to 71 years from eight US states. The people
with diets containing the highest amount of total dietary nitrite (from all
sources and not just from meat), as well as those whose diets had the
highest amount of nitrate plus nitrite from processed meats had a 28 percent
to 29 percent increased risk of developing bladder cancer compared with
those who consumed the lowest amount of these compounds. This association
between nitrate/nitrite consumption and bladder cancer risk may explain why
other studies have observed an association between processed meats and
increased bladder cancer risk.
�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.