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Barbecued meat may increase risk of kidney cancer

Kidney cancer sufferers were found to eat far more barbecued and pan-fried meat than people free of disease

A diet high in barbecued meat may increase the risk of developing kidney cancer, scientists have found.

The new study comes just a week after the World Health Organisationwarned that red and processed meats are carcinogenic and people should limit their intake.

Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year in Britain, and more than 4,000 will die. The most common kind is renal cell carcinoma.

When meat is cooked by flame grilling or frying it produces the carcinogens, PhIP and MeIQx.

The kidney filters many harmful toxins from the body so scientists speculate it could be at increased risk of developing cancer as it attempts to rid the body of the carcinogens.

Researchers from the University of Texas looked that the eating habits of 659 people suffering from renal cell carcinoma and compared them to 699 healthy subjects.

“We found elevated cancer risk associated with both meat intake and meat-cooking carcinogens, suggesting independent effect of meat-cooking carcinogens on RCC risk,” said Dr Xifeng Wu, professor of epidemiology and senior author of the study

“Our findings support reducing consumption of meat, especially meat cooked at high temperatures or over an open flame as a public health intervention to reduce RCC risk and burden.”

The results show that kidney cancer patients consumed more red and white meat compared to healthy individuals. They found that high levels of PhIP increased the risk of kidney cancer by 54 per cent while large amounts of MeIQx doubled the risk.

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Researchers also discovered that individuals with specific genetic mutations are more susceptible to the harmful compounds created when cooking at high temperatures, such as pan frying or barbecuing.

Individuals with variations in the gene, ITPR2, were more vulnerable to the effects of consuming PhIP.

“By analysing genes known to be associated with RCC risk, we found that high intake of these carcinogens may be particularly meaningful for a certain subgroup of the population,” said Dr Stephanie Melkonian, lead author of the study.

The researchers do not suggest that individuals should remove meats completely from their diets, but rather consume it in moderation, as part of a well-balanced diet, complete with fruits and vegetables. When grilling or pan-frying meat, try to avoid charring it as much as possible, they suggest.

The research was published in the journal Cancer.

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