Are meat and heme iron intake associated with pancreatic cancer? Results from the NIH-AARP diet and health cohort.Int J Cancer. 2016 May 01; 138(9):2172-89.IJ
Several studies on pancreatic cancer have reported significant positive associations for intake of red meat but null associations for heme iron. We assessed total, red, white and processed meat intake, meat cooking methods and doneness and heme iron and mutagen intake in relation to pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort. A total of 322,846 participants (187,265 men and 135,581 women) successfully completed and returned the food frequency questionnaire between 1995 and 1996. After a mean follow-up of 9.2 years (up to 10.17 years), 1,417 individuals (895 men and 522 women) developed exocrine pancreatic cancer. Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and trends were calculated using the median value of each quantile. Models incorporated age as the time metric and were adjusted for smoking history, body mass index, self-reported diabetes and energy-adjusted saturated fat. Pancreatic cancer risk significantly increased with intake of total meat (Q5 vs. Q1: HR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.02-1.42, p-trend = 0.03), red meat (HR = 1.22, 95% CI 1.01-1.48, p-trend = 0.02), high-temperature cooked meat (HR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.00-1.45, p-trend = 0.02), grilled/barbequed meat (HR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.03-1.50, p-trend = 0.007), well/very well done meat (HR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.10-1.58, p-trend = 0.005) and heme iron from red meat (Q4 vs. Q1: HR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.01-1.45, p-trend = 0.04). When stratified by sex, these associations remained significant in men but not women except for white meat intake in women (HR = 1.33, 95% CI 1.02-1.74, p-trend = 0.04). Additional studies should confirm our findings that consuming heme iron from red meat increases pancreatic cancer risk.