Meat, poultry, cooking methods and prostate cancer

This blog post discusses the paper “Red meat and poultry, cooking practices, genetic susceptibility and risk of prostate cancer: results from the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study.”

There has been much debate around the consumption of meat and cancer risk. Most studies have simply evaluated the amount of meat eaten vs. cancer incidence and the results have been inconsistent (1-3). This new study takes a more in-depth approach, analyzing both the types and amount of meat eaten, as well as the way the meat was prepared.

The study examined individuals from a variety of ethnic backgrounds in order to ensure results were widely applicable. A control group of individual without prostate cancer was compared to a group with prostate cancer (either localized or advanced). Individuals were asked how frequently they ate a variety of meats, how they were cooked, and how well-done the meat was by comparing to photographs.

Red meat and poultry did not increase prostate cancer risk

The researchers determined that red meat consumption, overall, did not impact prostate cancer risk. Interestingly, poultry consumption reduced the risk of prostate cancer. The researchers hypothesized that this could be due to the presence of a form of vitamin K2, menaqinone, in dark poultry meat. One study suggests menaquinone has a protective effect against prostate cancer (4).

Hamburger cooked at high temperatures increases prostate cancer risk

Hamburger cooked at high temperatures with methods including grilling, oven-broiling, and pan-frying had the strongest association of all meats with increased prostate cancer risk (odds ratio=1.7).  However, steak grilled at high temperatures was not associated with an increase in prostate cancer risk. The authors hypothesize that this could be due to differences in the amount and type of heterocyclic amines formed during cooking because hamburgers reach a higher internal and external temperature faster than steak.

When all types of red meats were grouped together, there was a moderate association between red meat consumption that was cooked at a high temperature with increased prostate cancer risk  (odds ratio=1.3).

Pan-fried poultry consumption was marginally associated with prostate cancer risk

Though not as strong as the association between well-done hamburgers and prostate cancer risk, there was a marginal risk of prostate cancer associated with pan-fried chicken (odds ratio=1.2). Consumption of baked chicken reduced prostate cancer risk, while grilling and oven-broiling chicken had no effect.

Bacon, sausage, and other processed meats did not affect prostate cancer risk

Consumption of bacon, sausage, and other processed meats did not affect prostate cancer risk regardless of cooking temperature.


It’s important to remember this study does not show cause and effect, it merely shows correlation. However, the study was very well designed and the controls that were used maximized the ability of the researchers to draw accurate conclusions.

This study indicates that there is reason to use low-temperature cooking methods, at least when cooking red meats, especially hamburger. However, avoiding red meat in general does not appear to decrease prostate cancer risk. Additionally, eating baked poultry may decrease prostate cancer risk.


1. Alexander, D.D., et al. (2010) A review and meta-analysis of prospective studies of red and processed meat intake and prostate cancer. Nutr J, 9, 50.

2. Kolonel, L.N. (2001) Fat, meat, and prostate cancer. Epidemiol Rev, 23, 72-81.

3. Sinha, R., et al. (2009) Meat and meat-related compounds and risk of prostate cancer in a large prospective cohort study in the United States. Am J Epidemiol, 170, 1165-77. 6. Agalliu, I., et al. (2010) Oxidative balance score and risk of prostate cancer: Results from a case-cohort study. Cancer Epidemiol.

4. Sinha, R., et al. (1995) High concentrations of the carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl- 6-phenylimidazo- [4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) occur in chicken but are dependent on the cooking method. Cancer Res, 55, 4516-9

One thought on “Meat, poultry, cooking methods and prostate cancer

  1. Pingback: Processed Meat Associated with Increased All-Cause Mortality | Understand Nutrition

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