Around Independence Day, when there is increased consumption of processed meat, in other words: hotdogs, cold cuts, and red meat, the ICA warns: high levels of red meat consumption may involve increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Ten articles were reviewed in a survey article written by Chinese investigators (meta-analysis); this survey involved 2,358 esophageal cancer patients from 7 states in the United States and 3 countries in Europe. The patients were asked about their red meat consumption and life style habits. The researchers discovered a positive significant link between high red meat intake - beef, hotdogs, cold cuts, etc. - and increased risk of EAC (Esophageal Adenocarcinoma) morbidity.
The incidence of Esophageal Adenocarcinoma, the most common type of esophageal cancer, has been on the rise in the United States, Western Europe, Australia, and other developed countries over the past four decades; however, the reason behind this is still not sufficiently clear.
It is assumed that chemical compounds called nitrates, which are known carcinogens, are produced when red meat is cooked at high temperatures (frying or on the grill).
Additionally, processed meat contains a compound called N-Nitroso, which has high amounts of nitrates. This compound is known to cause cancer in animals and may be involved in the formation of cancerous growths in humans.
In survey article the researchers found a positive and significant link between high red and processed meat intake and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma, even after they weighed the other disease risk factors among the subjects.
One of the indicators of the strong positive association between the risk factor and incidence is the evidence of increased morbidity due to increased dose (Dose-response indicator). Here too, the investigators found a strong link between the increase in consumption of these kinds of meat and increased morbidity risk.
According to the Ministry of Health, processed meat is meat that has undergone a curing process, injection of curing brine, or immersion curing, aside from packaging or salting.
For those who wish to barbecue, the ICA recommends the following tips:
Keep consumption of processed meat to a minimum - namely cold cuts, hotdogs, etc.
Opt for chicken, fish or lentils as an alternative to processed or red meat.
When consuming red meat, opt for lean meats in small quantities.
Cook or bake meat instead of frying or barbecuing (especially charcoal grilling).
Boost vegetable intake and make sure to eat different types of vegetables.
Drink plenty of water.
Stay in the shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and long clothing, and apply the recommended amount of sunscreen.
This article was published online in the Cancer Causes & Control journal in November 2012 and in the print edition in January 2013.