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Roasted, fried and grilled meat linked to pancreatic cancer

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By David Liu, PHD

Tuesday July 24, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Once again a new study in Molecular Carcinogenesis found eating meat cooked at high heat was associated with increased risk for pancreatic caner.

The study led by K.E. Anderson of University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota and colleagues found highest intakes of meat-derived carcinogens could increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 86 percent, compared to those having lowest intakes.

Early epidemiological studies have already linked high-temperature cooked meat with pancreatic cancer. The current study was meant to examine associations between dietary intake of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)-mutagens formed in meat cooked at high temperatures and incidence of pancreatic cancer in a prospective cohort.

Information on intake of meat, cooking methods, and doneness preferences was obtained from 62,581 subjects at the time of enrollment in the Prostate,Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Screening Trial.  Intake of carcinogens HCAs and BaP were estimated based on a standard database from the National Cancer Institute.  Subjects are surveyed annually through 2007.

During the 10-year follow-up, 248 cases of exocrine pancreatic cancer were identified.  Those who preferred well and very well done meat were found at higher risk for pancreatic cancer.

Significant increases in pancreatic cancer risk were found in upper quintiles of Mutagenic Activity Index, and mutagens 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx) and 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx). 

The researchers concluded "Consuming well-done meat cooked at high temperatures, which contains high mutagen levels, appears to confer increased risk of pancreatic cancer."

Pancreatic cancer is highly deadly.  Only 4.4 percent of patients could live over five years after diagnosis.  The disease is hard to be diagnosed in its early stages.  When the disease is diagnosed, it is often too late.

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