Meat intake, cooking methods and doneness and risk of colorectal tumours in the Spanish multicase-control study (MCC-Spain)



Although there is convincing evidence that red and processed meat intake increases the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), the potential role of meat cooking practices has not been established yet and could partly explain the current heterogeneity of results among studies. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the association between meat consumption and cooking practices and the risk of CRC in a population-based case–control study.


A total of 1671 CRC cases and 3095 controls recruited in Spain between September 2008 and December 2013 completing a food frequency questionnaire with a meat-specific module were included in the analyses. Odds ratios (OR) and confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by logistic regression models adjusted for known confounders.


Total meat intake was associated with increased risk of CRC (OR T3–T1 1.41; 95% CI 1.19–1.67; p trend < 0.001), and similar associations were found for white, red and processed/cured/organ meat. Rare-cooked meat preference was associated with low risk of CRC in red meat (ORrare vs. medium 0.66; 95% CI 0.51–0.85) and total meat (ORrare vs. medium 0.56; 95% CI 0.37–0.86) consumers, these associations being stronger in women than in men. Griddle-grilled/barbecued meat was associated with an increased CRC risk (total meat: OR 1.45; 95% CI 1.13–1.87). Stewing (OR 1.25; 95% CI 1.04–1.51) and oven-baking (OR 1.18; 95% CI 1.00–1.40) were associated with increased CRC risk of white, but not red, meat.


Our study supports an association of white, red, processed/cured/organ and total meat intake with an increased risk of CRC. Moreover, our study showed that cooking practices can modulate such risk.

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The study was partially funded by the “Accion Transversal del Cancer”, approved on the Spanish Ministry Council on 11 October 2007, by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III-FEDER (PI08/1770, PI08/0533, PI08/1359, PS09/00773, PS09/01286, PS09/01903, PS09/02078, PS09/01662, PI11/01403, PI11/01889, PI11/00226, PI11/01810, PI11/02213, PI12/00488, PI12/00265, PI12/01270, PI12/00715, PI12/00150), by the Fundación Marqués de Valdecilla (API 10/09), by the ICGC International Cancer Genome Consortium CLL, by the Junta de Castilla y León (LE22A10-2), by the Consejería de Salud of the Junta de Andalucía (PI-0571), by the Conselleria de Sanitat of the Generalitat Valenciana (AP 061/10), by the Recercaixa (2010ACUP 00310), by the Regional Government of the Basque Country, by European Commission grants FOOD-CT-2006-036224-HIWATE, by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) Scientific Foundation, by the Catalan Government DURSI grant 2009SGR1489. Jordi de Batlle acknowledges the support of the European Commission FP7 Marie Curie Actions-People, Cofunding of regional, national, and international programs (COFUND).

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Correspondence to Dora Romaguera.

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All participants signed an informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study. The study has been approved by the ethics committees of all participating centres and has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

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de Batlle, J., Gracia-Lavedan, E., Romaguera, D. et al. Meat intake, cooking methods and doneness and risk of colorectal tumours in the Spanish multicase-control study (MCC-Spain). Eur J Nutr 57, 643–653 (2018).

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  • Colorectal cancer
  • Meat
  • Cooking
  • Epidemiology