Eating Barbecued Hamburgers Well Done May Raise Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer

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Sanoj Punnen, MD
Sanoj Punnen, MD

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Men who eat grilled or barbecued hamburgers or any red meat that is well done or very well done may be at increased risk for advanced prostate cancer (PCa), data suggest.

The data were derived from a study comparing 512 cases of aggressive PCa and 470 controls. The researchers, Sanoj Punnen, MD, and colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco, defined aggressive PCa as TNM T-stage T2c or greater, PSA of 10 ng/mL or greater, Gleason grade 7 or higher. All subjects were given a self-administered food frequency questionnaire to provide information on meat consumption, methods of preparation, and meat doneness level.

Men who ate a median of two or more servings per week of grilled or barbecued hamburgers or other red meat that was well done or very well done had a twofold increased odds of advanced PCa compared with individuals who did not eat hamburgers or other red meat, Dr. Punnen reported at the American Urological Association 2011 annual meeting.

Consumption of rare or medium cooked red meat was not significantly associated with aggressive PCa. 

Dr. Punnen noted that epidemiological studies examining the impact of meat consumption on PCa risk have yielded mixed results. One explanation for these equivocal findings is that the association may be restricted to aggressive or advanced PCa. Another possibility is that the key exposure is not meat consumption, but how it is prepared.

Previous research has suggested an increased risk of PCa from meats cooked at higher temperatures due to production of heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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