Does Red Meat cause cancer ?

Viewpoint: Red meat increases cancer risk? Maybe, but staying healthy isn't  as simple as avoiding steak | Genetic Literacy Project

Many researchers have looked into the health impacts of eating both unprocessed and processed red meat over the years.

There is some evidence that eating a lot of red meat raises your risk of certain malignancies. Let’s look into it.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings:

Consuming red meat frequently is likely to raise your risk of colorectal cancer. Regularly eating processed meat raises your risk of colorectal cancer. They also discovered evidence of a relationship between red meat consumption and prostate and pancreatic cancer, however additional research is still needed. Red meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork, has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen which means it probably causes cancer.

What are the different types of meat? 

  • Processed meat: Processed meat is meat that has been altered in some way, usually for taste, texture, or shelf life. This can be accomplished by salting, curing, or smoking meat. Example: Salami, Hot dog, Bologna.
  • Unprocessed meat: Unprocessed red meats have not been altered or modified in any way. Example: Steak, pork chops, mutton chops.

Processed red meat contains fewer essential elements and is higher in salt and fat than unprocessed red meat. When ingested in large quantities, red meat has been identified as a possible cause of cancer by experts. The association between processed meat and cancer risk is stronger. Processed meat has been identified as a carcinogen by experts. This means that it can now be proven to cause cancer. According to the IARC research, consuming red meat regularly raises the risk of some cancers. The IARC experts also stated that the way you prepare red meat may impact your cancer risk.

When grilling, burning, smoking, or frying meat, extremely high temperatures appear to enhance the risk.  Today meat is way different than what was consumed in the past. Back in the day, animals roamed free and ate grass, insects, or other foods natural to them. Today, some meat products are highly processed after the animals have been slaughtered. They are smoked, cured, and treated with nitrates, preservatives, and various chemicals. 

Red meat and colon cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequent disease in males and the second most common cancer in women globally. More than half of all occurrences occur in wealthy nations. Red meat consumption (beef, hog, lamb, veal, mutton) is high in industrialized nations, and cumulative data has shown a clear link between red meat consumption, particularly processed meat, and CRC risk.

The data comes from two major 2005 investigations, one in Europe and the other in the United States. The European study followed 478,000 men and women who were cancer-free at the start of the trial. During the almost five-year study period, 1,329 individuals were diagnosed with colon cancer. People who ate the red meat(at least 5 ounces per day) were roughly a third more likely to acquire colon cancer than those who ate the least red meat.

 Experts believe that consuming red meat daily may raise your chance of developing colorectal cancer. Low-meat diets have been linked to longer life expectancy and reduced cancer risk. For decades, scientific evidence has accumulated indicating those who consume the most red meat and processed meat are more likely to get colon cancer.

Scientists have proposed several theories to explain the relationship between red meat and colon cancer. One idea attributes the problem to heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are compounds created when meat is cooked at high temperatures. It is worth noting that N-nitroso compounds with mutagenic and carcinogenic potential can be found in processed meats rich in salts, nitrates, and nitrites. According to several recent studies, consuming red meat daily may raise the risk of cancer or death. According to one 2015 study, red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” whereas processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans.”

Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are compounds that are produced when muscle meat, such as beef, pig, or chicken, is cooked at high temperatures, such as pan-frying or grilling directly over an open flame. HCAs and PAHs have been proven to be mutagenic in laboratory studies, which means they induce changes in DNA that may raise the risk of cancer. In animal models, exposure to HCAs and PAHs has been proven to induce cancer. Rodents fed a diet enriched with HCAs developed cancers of the breast, colon, liver, skin, lung, prostate, and other organs in several studies.

Detailed questionnaires were utilized in a number of epidemiologic studies to assess participants’ meat consumption and cooking techniques. Researchers discovered that eating well-done, fried, or grilled meats was linked to an elevated risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.

Red Meat and Breast Cancer

Red meat consumption during early adult life has also been associated with breast cancer.

Participants in a research of 39,268 premenopausal women who consumed the most red meat throughout high school had a 30% to 40% greater risk of breast cancer compared to women who consumed the least red meat. The link remained after correcting for hemeiron and animal fat, and it was seen in women who did not have benign breast illness or a positive family history. Furthermore, the link was greater for tumors that were ER- and PR-positive.

Higher intake of red meat throughout high school and adolescence was linked to an increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer in a cohort research. Given that food is one of the few theoretically modifiable risk factors for breast cancer, this relationship warrants additional investigation, including an assessment of potential mechanisms.

Conclusion :

Yes. Red meat does increase the risk of certain cancers.