A prospective analysis of meat mutagens and colorectal cancer in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study

Ngoan Tran Le, Fernanda Alessandra Silva Michels, Mingyang Song, Xuehong Zhang, Adam M. Bernstein, Edward L. Giovannucci, Charles S. Fuchs, Shuji Ogino, Andrew T. Chan, Rashmi Sinha, Walter C. Willett, Kana Wu

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28 Scopus citations


Background: Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in cooked meats may play a role in colorectal cancer (CRC) development. Objectives: We aimed to prospectively examine the association between estimated intakes of HCAs and meat-derived mutagenicity (MDM) in two cohorts of health professionals, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS). Methods: In 29,615 men and 65,875 women, intake of the HCAs 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo(4,5-j)quinoxaline (MeIQx), 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo(4,5-b) pyridine (PhIP), 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo(4,5-f)quinoxaline (DiMeIQx), and MDM was estimated using a 1996 cooking questionnaire, the 1994 food frequency questionnaire, and an online database. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and to adjust for potential confounders. Estimates for both cohorts were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. Results: Between 1996 and 2010, 418 male and 790 female CRC cases were identified. Meat mutagen intake was not statistically significantly associated with risk of CRC [highest vs. lowest quintile, pooled HR (95% CI) for MeIQx: 1.12 (0.93, 1.34), p for trend 0.23; PhIP: 1.10 (0.90, 1.33), p for trend 0.35; MDM: 1.03 (0.86, 1.24), p for trend 0.75] or subtypes of CRC defined by tumor location (proximal or distal colon, or rectum). When analyzed by source of meat, PhIP from red but not from white meat was nonsignificantly positively associated with CRC and significantly positively associated with proximal cancers [HR (95% CI) per standard deviation increase of log-transformed intake: PhIP red meat: CRC: 1.06 (0.99, 1.12), proximal: 1.11 (1.02, 1.21); PhIP white meat: CRC: 0.99 (0.94, 1.04), proximal: 1.00 (0.93, 1.09)]. Conclusions: Estimated intakes of meat mutagens were not significantly associated with CRC risk over 14 years of follow-up in the NHS and HPFS cohorts. Results for PhIP from red but not from white meat warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1529-1536
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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