Meat intake and cooking techniques: Associations with pancreatic cancer

Kristin E. Anderson, Rashmi Sinha, Martin Kulldorff, Myron Gross, Nicholas P. Lang, Cheryl Barber, Lisa Harnack, Eugene DiMagno, Robin Bliss, Fred F. Kadlubar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Heterocyclic amines (HCAs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), formed in temperature and time-dependent manners during cooking of meat, may increase the risk of certain cancers. As these compounds could be carcinogenic for the pancreas, we assessed meat intake, preparation methods, and doneness preferences as risk factors for exocrine pancreatic cancer. In a case-control study (cases=193, controls=674), subjects provided information on their usual meat intake and how it was cooked, e.g. fried, grilled or barbecued (BBQ), etc. Meat doneness preferences were measured using photographs that showed internal doneness and external brownness with a numerical scale. Data were analyzed with unconditional logistic regression. Odds ratios (ORs) increased with increased intake of grilled/BBQ red meat in an analysis adjusted for age, sex, smoking, education, race, and diabetes. Based on amount of BBQ meat consumed, the OR and 95% confidence interval (CI) for the fifth quintile relative to the reference group (quintiles 1 and 2) was 2.19 (1.4, 3.4). Findings were not substantively changed by further adjustment for calories, total fat, fruit and vegetables, or alcohol consumption (from a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ)). Other meat variables did not show statistically significant associations with risk nor did they substantively alter the findings for BBQ. These included total meat, processed meat, total red meat, total white meat, total broiled meat, total fried meat, or total meat cooked by means other than grilling. We conclude that grilled red meat intake is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer and that method of meat preparation in addition to total intake is important in assessing the effects of meat consumption in epidemiologic studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
StatePublished - Sep 30 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the following individuals for their contributions to this study: Lois Murphy, Carolee DeSotel, Tami Dahl, for study coordination; Faye Imker-Witte, Ann Fitzpatrick, and Jennifer Hayes for laboratory aspects of the study; Jose Jesserun, for pathology review; John Potter and Richard K. Severson, for collaboration in the early phases of the study; Phyllis Pirie and Karen Virnig and their staff members for control ascertainment; Paul McGovern for statistical advice; Gail Jolitz (TUMORS) and the tumor registrars in the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area of Minnesota for case identification; Judy Punyko and Sally Bushhouse, Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System for case identification and verification; Charles Murray, for aspects of case ascertainment and study design; Ann Deshler (CCOP), Sally Fraki (CGOP), the late Sharon Dahlen (CGOP), and their staffs for case ascertainment. David Dunn, Gary Grammens, Anne Joseph, and the many physicians, nurses, and other staff members of hospitals in the Twin Cities area and the Mayo Clinic who helped to identify cases; Pat Brothen, Trista Johnson, Jane Curtin, Susie Reyes for data base management and analysis; and Lisa Fosdick for assistance with the nutrient database. Finally, we thank the cases and controls who generously participated in this study with the often expressed hope that their efforts might help others. Support for these analyses included a grant from the National Cancer Institute (K. Anderson, PI, RO1-CA58697).


  • Cooking practices
  • Epidemiology
  • Meat intake
  • Pancreas cancer


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