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Red Meat Linked with Stomach and Throat Cancers

Red meat lovers may want to cut down on steaks and hamburgers. Research shows that red meat is linked with throat and stomach cancers, according to lead author Dr. Amanda J. Cross of the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

After following nearly half a million American adults aged 50 to 71 for a decade, the researchers observed that the risk of cancer was higher for those who eat a lot of red meat. Around 200 participants were diagnosed with throat cancer, while 450 others developed stomach cancer.

This represented a 79 percent higher risk of developing esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, colloquially known as esophagus or throat cancer.

On the other hand, the risk for gastric cardia (also known as gastric cancer, which is situated on the upper part of the stomach close to the esophagus) also increased for individuals who had high intake of heterocyclic amine (HCA)—compounds formed when red meat is grilled or cooked under high temperatures. HCAs are found to have caused cancer in lab test animals.

However, the researchers clarified that red meat does not cause throat and stomach cancers. It is merely linked to those two diseases, as concluded by a research review conducted by two nonprofit organizations—World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The risk of gastric cardia cancer can increase by 44 percent due to the intake of a particular type of HCA in red meat—known as DiMelQx. As for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cancer, Dr. Cross said heavy drinking and smoking are stronger risk factors than red meat.

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