HealthStanford study reveals: High-temperature cooked red meat linked to increased cancer risk

Stanford study reveals: High-temperature cooked red meat linked to increased cancer risk

Steaks, burgers, stews... many of us cannot imagine a meal
Steaks, burgers, stews... many of us cannot imagine a meal
Images source: © Pixabay
6:45 AM EST, January 15, 2024

Red meat encompasses pork, beef, lamb, mutton, venison, horse meat, and even duck meat.

While red meat is a source of B-vitamins, namely B3, B6, and B12, and essential minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium, its preparation at high temperatures leads to DNA damage. This damage, when consumed, can potentially harm our own DNA, resulting in higher risks of cancer and other health problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that consuming large amounts of red meat can "potentially" expose us to Group A carcinogens. This is mainly due to carcinogenic chemicals and particles produced during the cooking process.

"We've shown that cooking can in fact damage the DNA present in food and consuming this DNA can pose a genetic risk. We are certain that the small particles identified in earlier studies are dangerous. However, what our study brings to light for the first time is the potential for large amounts of heat-damaged DNA getting incorporated into a consumer's DNA," explained Eric Kool, the primary author of the study.

A fact often overlooked is that virtually all food, which includes meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and grains, contain DNA.

Scientists Test the Effects of Roasting Pork and Beef in the Lab

In order to validate their theory, the scientists conducted tests on human cells and mice nurtured in a lab setting.

Different samples of minced beef, minced pork, and potatoes were cooked in two separate ways. One group was cooked at a temperature of 212 degrees for 15 minutes, and the other was baked at a higher temperature of 428 degrees for 20 minutes. The DNA of each sample was then extracted for examination of the subsequent damage.

The results showed that severe DNA damage occurred in food cooked at higher temperatures. Moreover, the damage to the meat's DNA was considerably higher than that in the potatoes. The two most frequently identified types of DNA damage were found to carry potential cancer-inducing toxins.

Upon introducing this heat-damaged DNA to human cells, it was observed that it induced damage in them as well. Also, it was found to cause cellular damage in the small intestines of mice.

The scientists stressed that this is merely the beginning of their ongoing research. They plan to extend their analysis to other food types and different cooking methods in the future.

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