Red meat is making headlines again. This time, new research links the consumption of red meat to an increased risk of bladder cancer, the tenth most common cancer in the U.S.

The Study
In the National Institutes of Health and AARP's Diet and Health Study, which included 300,000 participants, those who ate the most processed meats had a 30 percent greater risk for developing bladder cancer; individuals whose diets were highest in nitrites and nitrates (found in processed meats and other foods) were 33 percent more at risk for bladder cancer. The researchers recommended additional studies to confirm their findings.

The Findings
These results are not surprising considering the medical community has already linked red meat to increased risks for colorectal and pancreatic cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AIRC) warns that more than 18 ounces of red meat per week, and any amount of processed meat, increases the risk for colorectal cancer. Furthermore, many studies have also linked diets high in fat and red meat to conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension.

Red meats are:

  • Beef,
  • Lamb, and
  • Pork

Processed meats include:

  • Deli meats,
  • Bacon,
  • Ham, and
  • Hot dogs

Manufacturers preserve meats by smoking, salting, curing, or adding other chemicals, such as nitrites and nitrates. Nitrites break down into substances that scientist believe cause cancer.

What to Do
In 2006, several researchers reviewed evidence accumulated from numerous observational studies and found that as far back as 1997, the World Cancer Research Fund Report (WCRFR) had concluded the consumption of fruits and vegetables likely was associated with lower risks for cancers of the mouth, esophagus, lung, stomach, large intestine, larynx, pancreas, breast, and bladder.

The WCRFR also found that red meat and meat cooked a high temperatures were associated with increased risk for colon, rectal, and pancreatic cancers.

On a positive note, the studies showed that cancer patients who ate more fruits and vegetables had better outcomes. Consumption of fruits and vegetables lowered the risk of recurrence in breast cancer patients and improved survival rates in people with ovarian cancer.

The AICR advocates a diet that emphasizes plenty of:

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • nuts,
  • unsaturated oils,
  • whole grains,
  • and fish,
  • and minimizes saturated fats, sodium, and red meats.

It recommends limiting cooked red meat to 18 ounces or less per week and avoiding all processed meats. According to the AICR, every 1.7 ounces of additional red meat increases your risk for cancer by 15 percent.

Barclay, Laurie MD. "Processed Meat Linked to Increased Risk for Bladder Cancer." Medscape Medical News. Web. 2 August 2010.

Paddock, Catharine, PhD. "Hot Dogs Should Carry Cancer Warning Labels Says US Non Profit Group." Medical News Today. Web. 23 July 2009.

Cross, Amanda J., Ferrucci, Leah M., Risch, Adam, Graubard, Barry I., Ward, Mary H., Park, Yikyung, Hollenbeck, Albert R., Schatzkin, Arthur, and Sinha, Rashmi. "A Large Prospective Study of Meat Consumption and Colorectal Cancer Risk: An Investigation of Potential Mechanisms Underlying this Association." Cancer Research 70 (2010): 2406. Web. 9 March 2010.

Adams, Stephen M. MD, and Standridge, John B., MD. "What Should We Eat? Evidence from Observational Studies." Southern Medical Journal 99(7) (2006): 744-748. Medscape Medical News. Web. 7 September 2006.

"Cancer Facts - Meat Consumption and Cancer Risk." Web.

"Landmark Report: Excess Body Fat Causes Cancer; Panel Also Implicates Red Meat, Processed Meat and Alcohol." American Association of Cancer Research. Web.

American Institute of Caner Research. "Red and Processed Meats: The Cancer Connection." Press release 3 August 2010.

 American Institute of Cancer Research. "In The News: Processed Meat Linked To Bladder Cancer." Press release 3 August 2010.