A high intake of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat prior to cancer diagnosis may increase the risk of death of patients with breast cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.1

Previous research demonstrated that consumption of meat cooked at high temperatures increases the risk for some types of malignancies, including colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) carcinogens and heterocyclic amines, which are prevalent in cooked meats, may increase cancer risk.

To determine whether intake of grilled, barbecued, and smoked meat affects survival, researchers interviewed a population-based cohort of 1508 women diagnosed with first primary invasive or in situ breast cancer at baseline and about 5 years later. After a median follow-up of 17.6 years, there were 597 deaths, of which 237 were breast cancer-related.

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High consumption of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat prior to breast cancer diagnosis was associated with a 23% increased risk of death by any cause (hazard ratio [HR], 1.23; 95% CI, 1.03-1.46).

Investigators noted the relationship but found no significant association between continued high grilled/barbecued and smoked meat intake after diagnosis and all-cause mortality (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 0.96-1.78).

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Notably, women with any pre- and post-diagnosis intake of smoked poultry and fish had a 45% lower risk of breast cancer-specific death (HR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.31-0.97).

The findings suggest that high consumption of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat prior to being diagnosed with cancer may be associated with increased mortality after breast cancer.


  1. Parada Jr. H, Steck SE, Bradshaw PT, et al. Grilled, barbecued, and smoked meat intake and survival following breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017 Jan 5. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw333 [Epub ahead of print]