Red meat and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies focusing on cooking practices

M. Di Maso, R. Talamini, C. Bosetti, M. Montella, A. Zucchetto, M. Libra, E. Negri, F. Levi, C. La Vecchia, S. Franceschi, D. Serraino, J. Polesel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Consumption of red meat has been related to increased risk of several cancers. Cooking methods could modify the magnitude of this association, as production of chemicals depends on the temperature and duration of cooking. Methods: We analyzed data from a network of case-control studies conducted in Italy and Switzerland between 1991 and 2009. The studies included 1465 oral and pharyngeal, 198 nasopharyngeal, 851 laryngeal, 505 esophageal, 230 stomach, 1463 colon, 927 rectal, 326 pancreatic, 3034 breast, 454 endometrial, 1031 ovarian, 1294 prostate and 767 renal cancer cases. Controls included 11 656 patients admitted for acute, non-neoplastic conditions. Odds ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by multiple logistic regression models, adjusted for known confounding factors. Results: Daily intake of red meat was significantly associated with the risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx (OR for increase of 50 g/day = 1.38; 95% CI: 1.26-1.52), nasopharynx (OR = 1.29; 95% CI: 1.04-1.60), larynx (OR = 1.46; 95% CI: 1.30-1.64), esophagus (OR = 1.46; 95% CI: 1.23-1.72), colon (OR = 1.17; 95% CI: 1.08-1.26), rectum (OR = 1.22; 95% CI:1.11-1.33), pancreas (OR = 1.51; 95% CI: 1.25-1.82), breast (OR = 1.12; 95% CI: 1.04-1.19), endometrium (OR = 1.30; 95% CI: 1.10-1.55) and ovary (OR = 1.29; 95% CI: 1.16-1.43). Fried meat was associated with a higher risk of cancer of oral cavity and pharynx (OR = 2.80; 95% CI: 2.02-3.89) and esophagus (OR = 4.52; 95% CI: 2.50-8.18). Risk of prostate cancer increased for meat cooked by roasting/grilling (OR = 1.31; 95% CI: 1.12-1.54). No heterogeneity according to cooking methods emerged for other cancers. Nonetheless, significant associations with boiled/stewed meat also emerged for cancer of the nasopharynx (OR = 1.97; 95% CI: 1.30-3.00) and stomach (OR = 1.86; 95% CI: 1.20-2.87). Conclusions: Our analysis confirmed red meat consumption as a risk factor for several cancer sites, with a limited impact of cooking methods. These findings, thus, call for a limitation of its consumption in populations of Western countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermdt392
Pages (from-to)3107-3112
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Cancer
  • Case-control study
  • Cooking methods
  • Red meat
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Hematology


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