Cancer risk from well-done meat underestimated?

“Human-like” mice?

Norwegian researchers report:

Mice are often used to test whether substances in food are harmful to humans. This requires that mice and humans metabolise substances in the same way. Humans have certain enzymes in more parts of the body than mice. The health risk associated with harmful substances in food may therefore be underestimated.

Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have adopted a mouse type where human enzymes have been inserted to examine whether people may be more sensitive to certain carcinogenic substances from heat-treated foods. They have obtained a better model to assess negative health effects in humans from substances in food using these mice.

The results show that the incidence of intestinal tumours increased from 31 per cent to 80 per cent in “human-like” mice who consumed substances from meat crust (i.e. the surface formed during heat-treatment).

The problem, however, is that studies of actual human beings don’t show that well-done meat increases cancer risk (see below). There’s lots of handwringing about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from char-broiling causing cancer in mice, but this has yet to be borne out in credible studies on humans.

As Steve Milloy discussed in Junk Science Judo, mice are not little people — and neither are “human-like” mice.

For more on this topic, read Steve Milloy’s column, “Hamburger Report Not Well Done.

2 thoughts on “Cancer risk from well-done meat underestimated?”

  1. So… They took mice, which are well known but non-human, and injected them with human enzymes, and the results are… Completely unknown because who knows what reactions are taking place in the little critters due to the sheer number of foreign substances they have been subjected to.

    Would it not be more produtive to study the cancer risks of lifelong vegetarians? The confounding societal factors would be difficult to account for, but at least you could make decent guesses at the direction of these factors. These mice are like giant question marks.

  2. Deja Vu again. The late Peter Jennings wept and wailed over this several years back. The panic crowd must have unearthed it from the landfill of history.

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