Barbecued meat ‘will raise your risk of kidney cancer’

Last month the World Health Organisation commissioned a report which suggests that processed meat can cause cancer. Now researchers from the University of Texas say that certain cooking techniques, such as frying and barbecuing, may increase that risk further.

The study, published this week in the journal Cancer, also claims that individuals with specific genetic mutations are more susceptible to the harmful compounds created when cooking at high temperatures.

The kidney filters out harmful toxins from the body, and so the researchers are looking at the links between diet and kidney cancer risk. They say that cooking meat at high temperatures or over an open flame can result in the formation of harmful carcinogens.

The researchers surveyed the diets of 659 patients newly diagnosed with kidney cancer and 699 healthy subjects. Based on survey responses they estimated the participants’ meat consumption and exposure to mutagens caused by the method of cooking.

Xifeng Wu, the study’s senior author, said: ‘We found elevated RCC [kidney cancer] risk associated with both meat intake and meat-cooking mutagens, suggesting independent effect of meat-cooking mutagens on RCC risk.’

The results suggest that the method used in cooking is an important factor contributing to the elevated kidney cancer risk associated with consuming meat. The results showed that kidney cancer patients consumed more red and white meat compared to healthy individuals. It is the first study to identify a link between kidney cancer risk and diet.

The researchers say they cannot make specific recommendations regarding acceptable amounts of meat intake based on the current study.

‘Our findings support reducing consumption of meat, especially meat cooked at high temperatures or over an open flame as a public health intervention to reduce RCC risk and burden,’ said Dr Wu.