Red Meat Consumption Increases Risk of Bladder Cancer


An individual can increase their risk of developing bladder cancer by consuming large amounts of red meat or fried meat, according to a study presented yesterday at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

Jie Lin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and colleagues used data collected in a large Texas bladder cancer case-control study to analyze the association between meat consumption, cooking methods, genetic predisposition and bladder cancer risk.

The study included 884 patients with confirmed bladder cancer and 878 controls. Epidemiologic and dietary data, including meat intake and meat cooking methods, were collected using standard food frequency questionnaires.

The researchers found increased bladder cancer risk was associated with higher consumption of beef steaks, pork chops and bacon.

Red meats aren’t the only meats with the increased bladder cancer risk. Chicken and fish when fried also are associated with increased bladder cancer risk.

When evaluating the effect of cooking method, Lin and colleagues found meats cooked at the medium-done and well-done level were associated with a 1.46-fold and 1.94-fold increased risk, respectively, when compared to the rare-done level.


The high temperature-cooking methods generate heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic compounds that increase cancer risk.

“The most interesting finding was that the magnitude of the meat-cancer association depends on a person’s genetic background,” Lin noted. “Reducing red meat consumption and/or avoiding eating meats cooked at very high temperature, like those pan-fried, grilled or barbecued, may reduce one’s risk for developing bladder cancer.”

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. Almost 60,000 cases are diagnosed each year, and more than 12,000 will die from the disease.

Men, Caucasians and smokers have twice the risk of bladder cancer than the general population. When diagnosed and treated in a localized stage, bladder cancer is very treatable, with a five-year cancer-specific survival rate approaching 95%.

You may not be able to change your genetic predisposition to cancer risk (sex, race, etc), but you can decrease your risk by not smoking and eating less fried meat. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Bladder cancer signs and symptoms may include:

  1. Blood in urine (hematuria) — urine may appear dark yellow, bright red or cola colored; or urine may appear normal, but blood may be detected in a microscopic examination of the urine
  2. Frequent urination
  3. Painful urination
  4. Urinary tract infection
  5. Abdominal pain
  6. Back p

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, such as blood in your urine.

American Academy for Cancer Research
MD Anderson