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Cold Cuts Linked To Bladder Cancer

August 3, 2010

Since being linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer of the pancreas, red meat has been found by a team of US researchers to be a possible cause of bladder cancer.

There is some good news however; scientists found no links between beef, bacon, hamburger, sausage or steak and bladder cancer.

The bad news: the team did observe a “positive nonlinear association for red meat cold cuts” and bladder cancer.

The culprits are nitrates and nitrites which are added to meat during processing to preserve and enhance both flavor and color.
“Nitrate and nitrite are precursors to N-nitroso compounds (NOCs), which induce tumors in many organs, including the bladder, in multiple animal species,” says the study, published in the journal Cancer.

Researchers assessed the intake of nitrates, nitrites and other components found in red meat, in 300,000 men and women between the ages 50 and 71, from eight US states. The participants were followed up for up to eight years. During that time, 854 were diagnosed with cancer of the bladder.

The team found that people whose diets were high in nitrites from all sources, not just meats, and those who got most of their nitrates in their diets from processed meats, such as cold cuts, had a 29 percent greater chance of developing bladder cancer than those who ate the lowest amount of either compound.

The researchers, led by Dr Amanda Cross of the National Cancer Institute, found that people who ate the most red meat were younger, less educated, less active, and had lower intake levels of fruits, vegetables and vitamins C and E than those consuming less red meat. They also discovered the biggest red meat eaters were more likely to be non-Hispanic white, smokers, with higher body-mass indexes.

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