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Study Links Grilled and BBQ Meats to Increased Cancer Risk

Update Date: Nov 09, 2015 11:48 AM EST

Meats are once again under scrutiny.

According to a new study, researchers concluded that meats, particularly those that have been grilled and/or barbecued could increase one's risk of developing kidney cancer. This study's findings come after the World Health Organization (WHO) reported last month that processed and red meats can increase risk of colon cancer.

For this study, the researchers examined data on 659 renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer. The data, which included the patients' diets and genetic backgrounds, were compared to data on a group of 699 healthy adults. Information on diets was collected via questionnaires.

For each participant, the researchers estimated the amount of meat he/she consumed as well as the level of exposure to mutagens, which are compounds that can be found in meats that have been cooked on an extremely high temperature over an open flame. Mutagens can cause genetic mutations and cancer.

The researchers discovered that people from the RCC group tended to eat more red and white meats in comparison to people from the healthy group.

"We found elevated RCC risk associated with both meat intake and meat-cooking mutagens, suggesting independent effect of meat-cooking mutagens on RCC risk," study author Dr. Xifeng Wu said in a statement. "Limit the amount of time the meat is cooked at really high temperatures or over an open flame resulting in burning, smoking, or charring of the meat."

More specifically, the researchers found that ingestion of the carcinogen, 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenyl-imidazo(4,5-b) pyridine (PhIP), increased risk by 54 percent. Ingesting the carcinogen, amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo(4,5-f) quinoxaline (MeIQx) was tied to about a twofold increase in risk of developing RCC.

The team also found that certain people appeared to be more vulnerable to the mutagens, which suggested that genetic factors could affect RCC risk as well.

"By analyzing genes known to be associated with RCC risk, we found that high intake of these carcinogens may be particularly meaningful for a certain subgroup of the population," said lead author Stephanie Melkonian.

Per the statement:

"Individuals with variations in the gene, ITPR2, were more vulnerable to the effects of consuming PhIP. As this gene has previously been associated with kidney cancer and obesity risk, the results suggest this association may be partially explained by exposure to meat-cooking mutagens."

The researchers noted that their study only found a correlation. They could not determine that eating meats will definitely lead to cancer.

The study was published in the journal, Cancer.

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