Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and second most common cause of cancer related death in men in the United States. Nearly one in five men will develop the disease during their lifetime. While known risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history and ethnicity, new research demonstrates that increased consumption of ground beef or processed meat is positively associated with aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Researchers found a strong correlation between well cooked, grilled or barbequed red meat and processed meats and the development of prostate cancer. Health-minded individuals will want to severely limit and review cooking methods for red and processed meat consumption to limit this prostate cancer risk factor.
Well Cooked Red and Processed Meats Dramatically Increase Prostate Cancer Incidence
The result of a study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), offers solid evidence of a link between aggressive prostate cancer and meat consumption. Scientists found prostate cancer growth is driven largely by consumption of grilled or barbecued red meat, especially when it is well-done. Senior study author, Dr. John Witte set out to explain the result of prior studies and establish a scientific basis for increased prostate cancer risk with red and processed meat consumption.
Researchers used a cohort of 470 men with aggressive prostate cancer and contrasted against 512 matched controls that did not have prostate cancer. All the men completed questionnaires that enabled the researchers to assess not only their meat intake for the previous 12 months, but also the type of meat and how it had been prepared. Researchers placed special emphasis on the "doneness level", ranging from rare to well-done.
Cooking Method Increases Heterocyclic Amines in Cooked Meats
The study authors used pre-established levels of carcinogens from the National Cancer Institute's CHARRED database which contains the mutagen content for each type of meat by cooking method and doneness. Compiling the data obtained from the participants allowed the researchers to determine the consumption levels of chemicals that have the potential to transform into cancer-causing compounds including heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The study established the following conclusions:
“Higher consumption of any ground beef or processed meats was positively linked with aggressive prostate cancer, with ground beef showing the strongest association.”
“The main driver of this link was intake of grilled or barbecued meat, with more well-done meat tied to a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.”
“Men who ate high levels of well or very well cooked ground beef had twice the odds of developing aggressive prostate cancer compared to men who ate none.”
Dr. Witte and his team were able to make a conclusive link between well cooked and processed meats and incidence of prostate cancer. Of particular importance was the degree of cooking and use of high heat cooking methods that add carcinogens to the surface of the meat. Most health-conscious people avoid regular meat consumption. This study provides further evidence that limiting or eliminating meat from the diet and utilizing proper cooking practices for all types of food can help prevent prostate cancer and many chronic illnesses.