Processed meat components may increase bladder cancer risk

August 26, 2010

A new study suggests that consuming specific compounds in meat related to processing methods may be associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.

A new study suggests that consuming specific compounds in meat related to processing methods may be associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.

Published online in Cancer (Aug. 2, 2010), the findings may be relevant for understanding the role of dietary exposures in cancer risk, researchers say.

Senior author Amanda J. Cross, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD and colleagues conducted one of the first prospective studies, the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, to assess the relationship between intake of meat-related compounds and the risk of developing bladder cancer. The investigators collected information from approximately 300,000 men and women aged 50 to 71 years from eight U.S. states. The participants were followed for up to 8 years, during which time 854 people were diagnosed with bladder cancer.

People whose diets had the highest amount of total dietary nitrite, as well as those whose diets had the highest amount of nitrate plus nitrite from processed meats, had a 28% to 29% increased risk of developing bladder cancer compared with those who consumed the lowest amount of these compounds. This association between nitrate/nitrite consumption and bladder cancer risk may explain why other studies have observed an association between processed meats and increased bladder cancer risk.

"Our findings highlight the importance of studying meat-related compounds to better understand the association between meat and cancer risk," Dr. Cross said. "Comprehensive epidemiologic data on meat-related exposures and bladder cancer are lacking; our findings should be followed up in other prospective studies."