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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Grilled or Fried Meats May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer


Also at higher risk are women who have low activity from a gene that helps counteract cancer-causing agents. Visvanathan bases her findings on data collected in 1995 from 88 women with breast cancer and 92 age-matched healthy controls.

John D. Potter, MD, PhD, says the new studies suggest again that it may be best to avoid meats "that are charred or blackened." Potter, who was not involved in either study, tells WebMD that even with the new studies, it is still too soon to issue any hard guidelines about risks associated with charred meats. Potter is director of the cancer prevention education program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

He says that a better approach is to follow the general guidelines issued in 1997 by cancer prevention experts. "That recommendation is that if you eat meat, limit it to ... about three ounces, or a piece of meat that's roughly the size of a deck of cards," Potter says. He adds, however, that it is difficult to get a "three-ounce steak, so another approach would be to get a six-ounce steak and then skip meat for a couple of days."

Asked about high-risk women -- those with a family history or those who have genetic mutations which predispose them to breast cancer -- Potter says it is too soon to make a firm dietary recommendation. "But avoiding charred meats wouldn't hurt," he says.

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