If you choose to eat red and processed meats, just how often do you bite into that bologna sandwich or hot dog? What type of pork and beef do you eat? Is it low fat? What brand?
These are the kinds of answers that studies need in order to better understand how processed meat increases the risk of cancer, says Amanda Cross, speaking at our research conference today.
Cross, a scientist at Imperial College London, noted that the research clearly shows even small amounts of processed meat — and high consumption of red meats — increase risk of colorectal cancer. A study by Cross also suggests that processed meat increases risk of lung cancer; while diets high in red meat risk increase risk for esophagus and liver cancers.
Historically, the questionnaires used in studies of dietary intake only asked a couple questions on how much red and/or processed meats people typically ate. Now the science needs more.
When it comes to processed meat, researchers are looking closely at nitrate and nitrite. These chemicals, added to many processed meats, lead to potential carcinogens known as N-nitroso compounds. For burgers and other red meats, grilling and broiling them well-done can form heterocylic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hyrdocarbons (PAHs), also potential carcinogens. Continue reading