In past studies, eating red meat has been linked to an increased risk of developing several types of cancer. A number of studies have identified various compounds in meat that might account for this association, with a lot of attention being paid to added nitrate and nitrite in processed meats. The studies linking the consumption of meat with disease keep rolling in; the latest links eating red meat cold cuts to a 29-percent higher risk of having bladder cancer.
Amanda J. Cross, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, and colleagues conducted the study to assess the relationship between intake of these meat-related compounds and the risk of developing bladder cancer. They used information collected through questionnaires to assess the types of meat eaten as well as how meat was prepared and cooked to estimate the intake of these meat-related compounds. The study (the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, published online in CANCER, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society) shows that there is ďa positive nonlinear association for red meat cold cuts” and bladder cancer.
The study followed approximately 300,000 men and women aged 50 to 71 years from eight US states. The people with diets containing the highest amount of total dietary nitrite (from all sources and not just from meat), as well as those whose diets had the highest amount of nitrate plus nitrite from processed meats had a 28 percent to 29 percent increased risk of developing bladder cancer compared with those who consumed the lowest amount of these compounds. This association between nitrate/nitrite consumption and bladder cancer risk may explain why other studies have observed an association between processed meats and increased bladder cancer risk.
“Our findings highlight the importance of studying meat-related compounds to better understand the association between meat and cancer risk,” said Dr. Cross. “Comprehensive epidemiologic data on meat-related exposures and bladder cancer are lacking; our findings should be followed up in other prospective studies,” she added.