A diet rich in red meat has long been linked to a higher risk of colon cancer, but new research also ties it to lung, esophageal and liver cancers. A new study of over a half million participants focuses on consumption of beef, pork, lamb and processed meats—cold cuts, bacon and hot dogs. Researchers speculate that the increased risk stems from compounds within the meat, as well as some generated by cooking.
"Compounds that are formed during high-temperature cooking techniques have been shown to damage DNA in animal and in vitro studies," the lead researcher told NPR. Juices and fat dripping from meat into a hot fire generate harmful compounds which can then adhere to the surface of the food, another researcher explains.