Eating Charred Meat Boosts Cancer Risk

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2009 2:28 PM CDT
A barbecue chef grills meat at an eatery in Buenos Aires.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Grill-happy Americans who favor burned or charred red meat are 60% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who eat less incinerated protein, Reuters reports. Charred meat is known to contain cancer-causing compounds, but the study makes the first direct connection. “Turning down the heat when grilling, frying, and barbecuing,” the lead author said, will lower the risk.

In a group of 62,000 people—the first study to follow subjects for an extended period and rigorously document their eating habits—208 were diagnosed with the disease over the course of 9 years. “Those who preferred very well-done steak were almost 60 percent more likely to get pancreatic cancer as those who ate steak less well-done or did not eat steak,” the researcher said. “Those with the highest intake of very well-done meat had a 70 percent higher risk.”