Red Meat Might Increase Esophageal, Stomach Cancer Risks

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Red-meat lovers may have a greater likelihood of developing esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and gastric cardia cancer than people who limit their intake, according to a new study reported in the November issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers followed 500,000 U.S. adults ages 50 to 71 over roughly 10 years. At the outset, participants completed detailed questionnaires on their diets — including the methods they typically used for cooking meat, and the usual level of “doneness” they preferred — as well as other lifestyle factors.

After a decade, study participants who were in the top 20% for red-meat intake were 79% more likely than those in the bottom 20% to develop esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Furthermore, men and women who were in the top 20% for intake of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which form when meat is cooked using high-temperature methods, had a 44% higher risk of gastric cardia cancer than those in the bottom 20%.

Further large, prospective studies are needed to see whether the relationship between red meat and the two cancers is real.

Am J Gastroenterol. Posted October 26, 2010. Abstract

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