Does Red Meat Increase Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer?

Men who like their red meat and hamburgers well done or very well done may be at increased risk of advanced prostate cancer, according to a study presented at the 2011 American Urological Association Annual Meeting. This finding is in addition to previous research suggesting an increased risk of prostate cancer from eating meats cooked at higher temperatures, which triggers production of cancer-causing substances.

In the new study, which was conducted by Sanoj Punnen, MD, and colleagues at the University of California San Francisco, 512 men who had aggressive prostate cancer were evaluated. Aggressive prostate cancer was defined as having a tumor stage of T2c or greater, a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level of 10 ng/mL or higher, and a Gleason grade of 7 or higher. The patients were compared with 470 healthy controls.

All the men completed a self-administered food frequency questionnaire that included information on meat consumption, how the meat was prepared, and level of doneness.

Based on the responses, the investigators found that men who ate an average of two or more servings per week of grilled or barbecued red meat that was well done or very well done had a twofold increased risk of advanced prostate cancer than men who did not eat hamburgers or other red meat.

Investigators did not find the same increased risk for advanced prostate cancer associated with men who ate red meat prepared rare or medium. It is possible these findings indicate that the relationship between meat consumption and prostate cancer is limited to advanced disease, or that the main factor is not meat but how it is prepared.  Dr. Punnen noted that past epidemiological studies regarding prostate cancer risk and meat consumption have yielded mixed results.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


American Urological Association Annual Meeting