Grilled Meat Consumption Increases Mortality Risk Among Breast Cancer Survivors

Higher intake of grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats increases mortality risk among cancer survivors.

Sometimes a hankering for grilled, barbecued, or smoked meat needs to be satisfied; but new research finds that consumption of these meats may increase the risk of mortality among breast cancer survivors.

Meat cooked at a high-temperature are a highly prevalent source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other carcinogenic chemicals. Prior research has shown that consumption of these carcinogens is associated with increased breast cancer incidence.

In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, investigators assessed whether intake of grilled meat influences survival after breast cancer.

For the study, 1508 Long Island, NY, women with breast cancer were interviewed about their consumption of 4 types of grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats. The women were asked to disclose their intake at each decade of life, and to specify the seasons in which the foods were most frequently consumed.

During a 5-year follow-up, participants were asked the same questions, which queried about the time period since the original questionnaire.

After a median duration follow-up of 17.6 years, the results of the study showed that of the 1508 participants, 597 deaths were identified, 237 of which were related to breast cancer.

The investigators compared low-intake of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat versus high-intake prior to diagnosis. The results showed high intake was associated with a 23% increased hazard of all-cause mortality. Furthermore, high versus low-intake of smoked beef, lamb, and pork was associated with a 17% increased hazard of all-cause mortality, and a 23% increased hazard of breast cancer-specific mortality.

Lifetime intake of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat, and prediagnosis annual intake of grilled/barbecued beef, lamb, pork, and poultry/fish were not associated with mortality, according to the study.

Additional findings showed that compared with women with low prediagnosis and low post-diagnosis intake of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat, continued high intake was associated with a 31% increased hazard of all-cause mortality. Furthermore, the increased risk of death from any cause was similar in magnitude among women who reported high prediagnosis and low post-diagnosis intake of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat.