If you're a breast cancer survivor, you may want to skip grilled steaks and burgers. A study published in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that eating grilled, barbecued, and smoked meat as a regular part of their diets increased the risk of dying among breast cancer survivors.
Meat cooked at high temperatures is a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which are carcinogenic chemicals. Previous studies have linked them to the odds of developing breast cancer, but this study found they also affected chances of survival in breast cancer survivors.
More than 1,500 Long Island women with breast cancer were interviewed and asked about their consumption of four types of grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats during each decade of their lives. At a five-year follow-up, they were questioned again.
During the five-year period, 39.7 percent of the women had died of breast cancer or from causes related to the disease. Compared to those who ate the least grilled, barbecued and smoked meats before their cancer diagnosis, those who ate the most increased their risk of dying by 23 percent.
Women who ate the most smoked meats both before and after diagnosis increased their risk of dying from all causes by 31 percent when compared to women who ate the least grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats both before and after diagnosis.
Previous studies have also linked smoked and grilled foods with an increased risk of colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, you can reduce your exposure to PAHs and HCAs by avoiding cooking meat over an open flame, and by reducing cooking times at high temperatures. They also recommend microwaving meat before putting it over high heat to finish cooking, and to removing charred bits of meat before serving.
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