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Nutrition

Take an aspirin with that flame-broiled burger

11 years, 10 months ago

716  0
Posted on Nov 20, 2006, 10 a.m. By Bill Freeman

You might want to cook the holiday turkey in the oven instead of on the grill, according to results of a study released this week that found that women who favor flame-broiled foods may be at much higher risk for developing breast cancer than women who do not. Can't give up that flame-broiled taste? Then it might be wise to take an aspirin with your char-broiled meal, as the findings also suggest that aspirin may negate the potentially harmful effects of flame-broiled foods.

You might want to cook the holiday turkey in the oven instead of on the grill, according to results of a study released this week that found that women who favor flame-broiled foods may be at much higher risk for developing breast cancer than women who do not.

Can't give up that flame-broiled taste? Then it might be wise to take an aspirin with your char-broiled meal, as the findings also suggest that aspirin may negate the potentially harmful effects of flame-broiled foods.

"Cooking meat at high temperatures in direct heat over an open flame can lead to the production of cancer-causing chemicals known as heterocyclic amines, or HCAs," Dr. Kala Visvanathan from Johns Hopkins University, explained at a cancer prevention conference sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research.

By studying the eating patterns of 312 women with breast cancer and 316 women who were cancer free, Visvanathan's team found that breast cancer was increased a significant 74 percent in women who ate flame-broiled foods more than twice per month compared with women who never ate flame-broiled foods.

"We saw similar results for increased meat consumption" in general, Visvanathan said. Women who ate more than 64 grams per day compared with those who ate less than or equal to 64 grams per day had a 43-percent higher risk of breast cancer.

However, a woman's ability to activate cancer-causing HCAs modified the risk of developing breast cancer. The NAT2 enzyme, short for N-acetyltransferase, activates HCAs, Visvanathan explained. Slow NAT2 metabolizers tend to produce less active HCAs than fast NAT2 metabolizers.

Visvanathan reported that women who were "rapid metabolizers" of NAT2 who ate more flame-broiled food and consumed more meat daily were much more likely to develop breast cancer than slow metabolizers who never ate flame-broiled food and meat.

Interestingly, in rapid NAT2 metabolizers who consumed flame-broiled food or a lot of meat, aspirin completely attenuated the increased risk of breast cancer, the researcher said.

"When we think of the biological mechanism," Visvanathan noted, "there is some experimental data to explain this, but we still need to explore this further." Some laboratory studies have suggested that aspirin may inhibit NAT2 activity. Overall, the relationship among aspirin, flame-broiled food consumption and NAT2 activity is "intriguing," Visvanathan said.

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