Frying red meat boosts risk of prostate cancer

Prior research studies have implicated overcooking meats, especially red meat, due to the formation of carbon-based amines that greatly increase the risk of digestive cancers over many years of consumption. These studies have suggested eating meats that have been stewed or roasted in favor of char grilled or well done to avoid the charred ‘bark’ that forms as a result of barbequing or grilling over open flames.

A research team publishing in the journalCarcinogenesis from the University of Southern California and Cancer Prevention Institute of California found that cooking red meats at high temperatures, especially pan-fried red meats, may increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer by as much as 40 percent. This new study provides startling new evidence on how red meat is cooked not only increases digestive cancer incidence, but may also increase the risk for prostate cancer.

Consuming grilled, well done and barbecued meat produces cancer causing heterocyclic amines

Researchers gathered data from nearly 2,000 individuals participating in the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study. Each participant completed a comprehensive questionnaire that evaluated the amount and type of meat intake, including poultry and processed red meat. Additional information gathered included the cooking method: pan-frying, oven-broiling or grilling. Over the course of the study, more than 1,000 of the men included in the study were diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

The lead study author, Dr. Mariana Stern noted “We found that men who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30 percent… in addition, men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperatures were 40 percent more likely to have advanced prostate cancer.” The scientists found that among red meats, the consumption of hamburger meat, but not steak, was linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. They speculate that the findings are a result of different levels of carcinogen accumulation found in hamburgers, as they attain higher internal and external temperatures faster than steak.

Cooking method is a significant factor in determining the risk of developing many different forms of cancer, due to the formation of the DNA-damaging carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). During the cooking of red meat and poultry, HCAs are formed when sugars and amino acids are cooked at higher temperatures for longer periods of time. It is important to note that this does not vilify the consumption of free-range, grass-fed red meat in moderate portions. Avoid well done, barbequed or grilled cuts of any meat (red meat, chicken, pork or fish) to significantly lower risk of prostate and digestive cancers.