Those who eat red-meat may have a greater likelihood of developing certain cancers.
According to a new study, meat lovers face increased risk of cancer of the throat and stomach than people who limit their intake of steaks and hamburgers.
According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, about 21,000 cases of stomach cancer and 16,640 cases of esophageal cancer will be diagnosed in 2010.
Researchers found that among nearly 500,000 older U.S. adults followed for a decade, only a small number developed cancers of the esophagus or stomach. However, the risks were relatively greater among those who ate a lot of red meat, or certain compounds generated from cooking meat.
Overall, study participants in the top 20 percent for red-meat intake were 79 percent more likely than those in the bottom 20 percent to develop esophageal squamous cell carcinoma — a cancer that arises in the lining of the upper part of the esophagus.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, do not prove that red meat promotes the two cancers, the researchers emphasize.
However, the scientists report that the results add to what has been an uncertain body of evidence on the link between red meat and esophageal and stomach cancers.
A 2007 research review by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, both non-profit groups, concluded that red and processed meats were associated with a “limited suggestive increased risk” of esophageal cancer.
Researchers followed nearly 500,000 adults ages 50 to 71 over roughly 10 years. At the outset, participants completed detailed questionnaires on their diets — including the methods they typically used for cooking meat, and the usual level of “doneness” they preferred — as well as other lifestyle factors.
Over the next decade, 215 study participants developed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; that included 28 cases among the bottom 20 percent for red-meat intake, and 69 cases in the top 20 percent.
Another 454 men and women were diagnosed with gastric cardia cancer. There were 57 cases among participants with the lowest red-meat intake, and 113 in the group with the highest intake.
When the researchers accounted for other factors — like age, weight, smoking and reported exercise habits — participants who ate the most red meat were 79 percent more likely than those with the lowest intake to develop squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.