More Cancer Risks From Eating Processed Meats

If you read my eHealthy You Can use newsletter often, you'll remember a study I posted about the role processed meats can have in spurring colon cancer. Imagine raising your risk of colon cancer by as much as 50 percent, just by eating a hamburger or hot dog regularly!

A heavy diet of hot dogs, sausages and luncheon meats, along with other forms of processed meats, are also associated with the greatest risk of pancreatic cancer, according to an offshoot of the Multiethnic Cohort Study of some 191,000 men and women in Hawaii and Los Angeles. An average follow-up of seven years yielded 482 cases of pancreatic cancer.

By the numbers:

  • Those who consumed the greatest amount of processed meats had a 67 percent greater pancreatic cancer risk.
  • Patients whose diets were rich in pork and red meat increased their pancreatic cancer risk by about 50 percent.
  • Pancreatic cancer wasn't linked to eating chicken, fish, dairy products and eggs, in addition to one's intake of total fat, saturated fat or cholesterol.

Carcinogenic substances related to the way processed meat is prepared -- that yield such cancer-producing goodies as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -- rather than their inherent fat or cholesterol content, might be responsible for the association, according to the lead researcher.

That's indeed true, because certain cooking methods, like charbroiling or barbecuing, can create HCAs which are potent cancer causing agents. But you can minimize the formation of these substances when cooking things like burgers by adding vitamin E, cherries or blueberries to the ground meat.

EurekAlert April 20, 2005

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