Don’t queue for the BBQ: study highlights dangers of chargrilled meat

Flame-grilled burgers on the barbecue

A 12-year study has found that overcooked meat contributes greatly to the risk of bladder cancer, highlighting once again the importance of a reduced-meat diet.

Researchers at the University of Texas interviewed more than 1,700 people for the study, which has found that those eating well-done meat are more than twice as likely as those eating rare meat to develop bladder cancer. A link with pancreatic cancer has already been established.

The reason is that muscle tissue that has been fried, grilled or barbecued until charred can form cancer-causing chemicals knowns as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Red meat including steak, bacon and pork chops were the worst offenders, but the report also highlighted an increased risk from fried chicken and even fish.

“This research reinforces the relationship between diet and cancer,” the study’s lead author, Professor Xifeng Wu, told the American Association for Cancer Research. “These results strongly support what we suspected – people who eat a lot of red meat, particularly well-done red meat, such as fried or barbecued, seem to have a higher likelihood of bladder cancer.”

Dr Panagiota Mitrou of the World Cancer Research Fund said there was no suggestion that eating meat increased the risk of bladder cancer, but that there was “convincing evidence” of the link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.

“We recommend limiting red meat to 500g – cooked weight – per week and avoiding eating processed meat,” he said.

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