New study findings reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology have found people who eat the most red meat have a greater likelihood of developing certain cancers of the throat and stomach than people who limit their intake of steaks and hamburgers.
To investigate, researchers prospectively followed nearly half a million U.S. adults aged 50 to 71 over roughly 10 years.
At the start of the study period, 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.
Researchers found only a small number of people 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.
The study reports that 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.
Meanwhile, the risk of a type of cancer in the upper portion of the stomach near the esophagus was elevated among men and women with the highest estimated intake of one form of heterocyclic amine (HCA), compounds that form when meat is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as grilling.
There is convinicing evidence that a high intake of red meat - beef, veal, lamb, pork - increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Based on this association, experts advise consuming less than 18 ounces (500 grams) of red meat per week. If you eat red meat, limit your portion size to 3 oucnes (90 grams) per day. To help reduce portion size, enjoy red meat in smaller amounts in stir-fries and pastas. Serve thin slices of steak rather than a whole piece.
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