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Meat does not raise Breast Cancer Risk in
Newswise — Eating red or white meat,
including meat cooked at high temperatures,
does not increase the risk of breast cancer
in postmenopausal women, according to a
large study conducted by researchers at
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of
The study was published in the International
Journal of Cancer.
A number of previous studies have found that
eating red meat or meat cooked at high
temperatures increases the risk of breast
(High temperatures —caused by grilling,
barbecuing or pan-frying — produce high
amounts of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in
meat; HCAs and PAHs are mutagens (chemicals
capable of causing mutations in DNA) that
can cause breast tumors in laboratory
But a link between meat in the diet and
breast cancer in women hasn’t been
epidemiologic studies in humans looking at
the amount of meat in the diet and estimated
intakes of HCAs and PAHs in relation to
breast cancer risk have yielded inconsistent
results,” says lead author Geoffrey C. Kabat,
Ph.D., M.S., senior epidemiologist in the
department of epidemiology and population
health at Einstein.
To clarify this issue, Dr. Kabat and his
colleagues analyzed data on 120,755
postmenopausal women who participated in the
NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, a
collaboration between the National
Institutes of Health and American
Association of Retired Persons.
When the women enrolled in the study
(between 1995 and 1996), they gave detailed
information on what types of food they ate
and how often they ate certain foods. In
addition, they provided information on
Over the next eight years, approximately
three percent, or 3,818, of the women
developed breast cancer.
The researchers found no evidence that the
amount of meat consumed, meat-cooking
methods used, or meat-mutagen intake was
associated with an increased risk for breast
Reported meat intake included steak,
hamburger, chicken, pork, processed meat and
meat cooked at high temperatures.
The study also found that consumption of
meat or meat cooked at high temperatures,
through grilling and oven-broiling, did not
increase breast cancer rates in subgroups
including obese women, those who did not
have children, who were consumers of
alcohol, who were smokers, who used
menopausal hormone therapy, who had low
levels of physical activity, or had a low
intake of fruits or vegetables.
Neither the current study nor earlier
studies assessed the diets of younger women.
“So we haven’t ruled out the possibility
that eating meat and exposure to meat
mutagens at a younger age — particularly
during adolescence when the breasts are
developing — may increase one’s risk of
breast cancer,” says Dr. Kabat.
The study, “Meat intake and meat preparation
in relation to risk of postmenopausal breast
cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health
study,” appeared in the May 15, 2009 issue
of the International Journal of Cancer.
Study co-authors include Amanda J. Cross,
Yikyung Park, Arthur Schatzkin, and Rashmi
Sinha of the National Cancer Institute;
Albert R. Hollenbeck, of AARP; and Thomas E.
Rohan, Chairman, Department of Epidemiology
& Population Health at Einstein.
About Albert Einstein
College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of
Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s
premier centers for research, medical
education and clinical investigation.
It is the home to some 2,000 faculty
members, 750 M.D. students, 350 Ph.D.
students (including 125 in combined
M.D./Ph.D. programs) and 380 postdoctoral
Last year, Einstein received more than $130
million in support from the NIH.
This includes the funding of major research
centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer,
liver disease, and AIDS.
Other areas where the College of Medicine is
concentrating its efforts include
developmental brain research, neuroscience,
cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce
and eliminate ethnic and racial health
Through its extensive affiliation network
involving five hospital centers in the
Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island – which
includes Montefiore Medical Center, The
University Hospital and Academic Medical
Center for Einstein – the College runs one
of the largest post-graduate medical
training program in the United States,
offering approximately 150 residency
programs to more than 2,500 physicians in
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