Red meat lovers, who like their meat well done, beware. You know that many doctors see red meat as an artery-clogging villain thanks to a well-established role in heart disease as well as colorectal cancer, now there’s another reason to limit your intake of this admittedly tasty food an increased aggressive prostate cancer risk.
A compelling new study finds men have an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer should they eat large quantities of ground beef along with other red meat, specifically if its grilled or served well done. This finding adds to a growing body of evidence that grilled meat might also contain carcinogens alongside all that robust flavor.
This latest study took the next step in looking at red meat and prostate cancer by considering cooking methods as well as the meat itself. The subjects, 500 men who’d recently received a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer, filled out questionnaires about what they ate over the past year, including the volume of meat and it’s cooking style. Another 500 cancer-free male subjects completed the questionnaires, acting as controls for the study.
Those who ate two servings of either meatloaf or hamburger a week were more than twice (2.3 times) as likely to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer as those who ate none of this type of meat.
Higher intakes of fatty luncheon meats (salami) and liver were also shown to bring an increased risk of this form of cancer. Safer types of meats include chicken, bacon along with low fat sausages/hot dogs – all were found to have little impact on the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
When the team of researchers examined only the burger lovers who enjoyed their meat barbecued or grilled, the results were startling. Those who liked their burgers cooked well done experienced twice the cancer risk, compared to those who had them either medium or rare who had a virtually nonexistent increase in risk. The very same pattern was seen when the meat was steak, and the cooking methods the same, either barbecued or grilled.
Most of the higher cancer risk, it appears, can be traced back to the way the meat is cooked. Beyond taking a fine cut of steak or a burger patty from raw to done just right, when you cook a piece of red meat, char it over a naked flame at a very high temperature, a reaction takes place that leads to the formation of a couple of different chemicals. HCAs -Heterocyclic amines and PAHs – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are now part of your meat. In animal research, these substances have been linked to cancer of the prostate and other cancer types.
Almost 20% of American men will develop prostate cancer at some point during their lives. The disease can range from benign tumors all the way to aggressive, quickly fatal forms. The more abnormal the prostate cancer cells are, the more aggressive the cancer tends to be. Risk of developing prostate cancer increases as a man ages, if he has a family history or is subject to other genetic influences. The impact of diet has been inconclusive.
The take home message for men regarding aggressive prostate cancer risk factors is to be cautious and moderate in how much well done red meat you eat on a regular basis. You also want to be vigilant about your physicals and cancer screenings as you age. Catching diseases like prostate cancer early often bring a more favorable outcome.