What’s in Your Processed Meat? Finding How it Increases Cancer Risk

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?

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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


Diet Plays a Role in Colon Cancer Reccurence: New Study

It was only in the past few decades that research found diet plays a role in preventing colon cancer. Now, a study suggests that colon cancer patients whose diets are relatively low in starchy foods and carbohydrates have a lower risk of recurrence and death compared to those eating a high carb diet.

The findings were published online yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study builds on the authors’ earlier research that observed a link between an overall pattern of eating and recurrence among colon cancer patients. That study found patients who ate the most fats, meats, carbs and sugary desserts — a Western diet — were three times more likely to have their cancer recur compared to those whose diets were least Western.

The current study focused on teasing apart which part of the Western diet might most contribute to the effect. Continue reading