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Cancer Res. 2009 Feb 1;69(3):932-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3162. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

Intakes of red meat, processed meat, and meat mutagens increase lung cancer risk.

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Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, Office of Preventive Oncology, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Department of Health and Human Services, [corrected] Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7236, USA.

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  • Cancer Res. 2009 Apr 1;69(7):3240.


Red and processed meat intake may increase lung cancer risk. However, the epidemiologic evidence is inconsistent and few studies have evaluated the role of meat mutagens formed during high cooking temperatures. We investigated the association of red meat, processed meat, and meat mutagen intake with lung cancer risk in Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology, a population-based case-control study. Primary lung cancer cases (n = 2,101) were recruited from 13 hospitals within the Lombardy region of Italy examining approximately 80% of the cases from the area. Noncancer population controls (n = 2,120), matched to cases on gender, residence, and age, were randomly selected from the same catchment area. Diet was assessed in 1,903 cases and 2,073 controls and used in conjunction with a meat mutagen database to estimate intake of heterocyclic amines (HCA) and benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). Multivariable odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for sex-specific tertiles of intake were calculated using unconditional logistic regression. Red and processed meat were positively associated with lung cancer risk (highest-versus-lowest tertile: OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.5-2.2; P trend < 0.001 and OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.4-2.1; P trend < 0.001, respectively); the risks were strongest among never smokers (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4-4.0; P trend = 0.001 and OR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.5-4.2; P trend = 0.001, respectively). HCAs and BaP were significantly associated with increased risk of lung cancer. When separated by histology, significant positive associations for both meat groups were restricted to adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma but not small cell carcinoma of the lung. In summary, red meat, processed meat, and meat mutagens were independently associated with increased risk of lung cancer.

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