A study of 14,291 New York City women found that those women who ate the very most red meat had a 25 percent increased risk of breast cancer. A case-controlled study conducted in Uruguay found an increased risk of red meat that ran from 230 percent to 770 percent. Curiously, the risk may come from animal protein itself. An Italian study showed a risk just from a high intake of animal protein even when the risk of saturated fats was subtracted. What's the safest bet? Studies do show a sharp decrease in risk with vegetable proteins. If you love meat and can't do without it, however, consider how it is cooked. All meats are likely to be of lower risk if they are marinated and not grilled over an open fire. Grilling can introduce a potent carcinogen called heterocyclic amines. Heterocyclic amines are thought to contribute to cancer development because they damage DNA and have been shown to induce tumors in animal studies. More heterocyclic amines are created when meat (as well as poultry and fish) is cooked at high heat (barbecuing, broiling, pan-frying) until well-done. Mi-crowaving, boiling, stewing, or poaching produce less. Rare to medium contains fewer heterocyclic amines, well-done contains more - it's even in the gravy made from the pan drippings. The safe way to barbecue is to precook - microwave for 2 to 5 minutes, which releases juices that contain precursors of heterocyclic amines. Be sure to discard the juice. Another alternative is to precook in steam or in a low oven and finish cooking on the grill. Marinating is a great way to go. Although its not known why, researchers have observed that heterocyclic amines levels fell by 90 percent in barbecued chicken that was first marinated.


Women's health