The connection between red meat and prostate cancer

Red_MeatYes, there is a positive association, according to researchers at the National Cancer Institute.

First, the details.

  • Data from 175,343 American men between 50 and 71 years old were analyzed.
  • Meat consumption, including the type, the cooking method used, and the related intakes of heme iron, and nitrites and nitrates were calculated.

And, the results.

  • Over 9 years, 10,313 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, with 419 deaths from the disease.
  • The highest average intakes of red and processed meat were associated with 12% and 7% increases in the risk of prostate cancer, wrote the authors.
  • Increased consumption of heme iron was associated with a 9% increase in prostate cancer, and a 28% increase in advanced prostate cancer.
    • Heme iron is bound to iron-carrying proteins (hemoglobin and myoglobin) in meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Intakes of barbecued/grilled meat and benzo[alpha-]pyrene (a cancer-causing substance) were associated with an 11% and 9% increase in the risk of total prostate cancer, and a 36% and 28% increase in advance prostate cancer.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “There were no clear associations for fatal prostate cancer.”

However, “red and processed meat may be positively associated with prostate cancer via mechanisms involving heme iron, nitrite/nitrate, grilling/barbecuing, and benzo[a]pyrene.”

10/8/09 21:21 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.