Smoked, Charred Meat Raises Increases Carcinogens, Risk of Kidney Cancer Interview with:
Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D
, Professor, Epidemiology
Stephanie Melkonian, Ph.D
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study examines dietary intake of meat-cooking mutagens and genetic risk factors associated with kidney cancer in a population of 659 kidney cancer patients and 699 matched healthy control subjects from the community. We calculated the intake of several cancer-causing carcinogens that are produced when certain types of meat are cooked over an open flame and at high temperatures resulting in the burning, smoking or charring of the meat (for example, during barbequing or pan-frying). We found that kidney cancer patients consumed more red and white meat when compared to the healthy individuals, and also had higher intake of these cancer-causing chemicals created through the meat cooking process. These results suggest that meat intake, and the way we cook our meat, may potentially be linked to risk of kidney cancer. Additionally, we found that individuals with certain genetic variants were more likely to be susceptible to the harmful effects of the cancer-causing mutagens created during the process of cooking meat.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: This study, and others like it, suggest that the way we cook our meat could potentially impact kidney cancer risk. Our findings support the dietary recommendations for cancer prevention currently presented by the American Cancer Society- limit the intake of red and processed meats, and limit the amount of time that meat is cooked at high temperatures or over an open flame.

Beyond considering the type of meat that we eat, and how much, we and other researchers have shown that the way meat is cooked is also an important factor in kidney cancer risk. Limit the amount of time the meat is cooked at really high temperatures or over an open flame resulting in burning, smoking, or charring of the meat.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Further research is necessary to confirm these findings in larger, prospective studies (that follow people over time) evaluating the role of dietary intake on kidney cancer risk. We hope that the findings from this study will guide future research to not only inform dietary recommendations, but to help us better understand the underlying causes of kidney cancer.


Stephanie C. Melkonian, Carrie R. Daniel, Yuanqing Ye, Nizar M. Tannir, Jose A. Karam, Surena F. Matin, Christopher G. Wood, Xifeng Wu. Gene-environment interaction of genome-wide association study-identified susceptibility loci and meat-cooking mutagens in the etiology of renal cell carcinoma. Cancer, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29543

Xifeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D,, & Stephanie Melkonian, Ph.D (2015). Smoked, Charring Meat Raises Increases Carcinogens, Risk of Kidney Cancer 

Last Updated on November 10, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD