Cooking beef and cookingh news reports

Letter to the editor
Copyright 1998 Washington Times
November 27, 1998

Your article "Study links meat to breast cancer" (Nov. 18) was alarmist and light on the facts.

In the study, exposure to well-done meat was measured only by a study subject's "preference for level of meat doneness." No one knows the "doneness" of meat actually consumed by these women. In the best light, this study only reports an association for doneness preference and breast cancer.

The primary reported result (i.e., 3.6 times increase in breast cancer among consumers of well-done meat) is based on only 12 cases -- an exceedingly small sample.

None of the results for hamburger and bacon consumption were statistically significant -- a hole in the biological plausibility. If well-done beefsteak increases breast cancer risk, why doesn't well-done hamburger/bacon consumption?

Though data were collected on more than 10 types of meat, results were only presented for hamburgers, bacon and beef steak. What does the other data say? Cooked chicken and fish can have relatively high concentrations of heterocyclic amines, but no associations were reported.

As the accompanying editorial pointed out, consumers should be more concerned about eating under cooked, rather than overcooked meat. Consumers also need to be aware under cooked journalism.

Steven Milloy

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