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Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(1):36-46. doi: 10.1080/01635580802348658.

Meat consumption, heterocyclic amines, NAT2, and the risk of breast cancer.

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Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Meat consumption and heterocyclic amine (HCA) intake have been inconsistently associated with breast cancer risk in epidemiologic studies. Genetic variation in N-acetyltransferase2 (NAT2) has been suggested to modify the association of meat intake with breast cancer through its influence on metabolism of HCAs. We examined associations between meat intake, HCA exposure, acetylator genotype, and breast cancer risk in a case-control study of 2,686 case women and 3,508 controls. Women were asked to report their usual intake, cooking method, and preferred doneness of specific meats. We observed no association between total meat, red meat, or chicken with breast cancer risk. Women who consumed 5 or more servings of meat per week had no increased risk of breast cancer compared to women consuming fewer than 2 servings per week (OR = 0.99, 95% CI 0.84-1.15). No statistically significant associations with breast cancer were found for individual HCAs or for total estimated mutagenic activity of meat. Results varied modestly according to menopausal status. There were no statistically significant interactions with NAT2 genotype. Results do not support an important association of HCAs with breast cancer risk, although potential biases in case-control studies should be considered.

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