Background: Grilled, barbecued, and smoked meat intake, a prevalent dietary source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) carcinogens, may increase the risk of incident breast cancer. However, no studies have examined whether intake of this PAH source influences survival after breast cancer.
Methods: We interviewed a population-based cohort of 1508 women diagnosed with first primary invasive or in situ breast cancer in 1996 and 1997 at baseline and again approximately five years later to assess grilled/barbecued and smoked meat intake. After a median of 17.6 years of follow-up, 597 deaths, of which 237 were breast cancer related, were identified. Multivariable Cox regression was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for mortality as related to prediagnosis intake, comparing high (above the median) to low intake, as well as postdiagnosis changes in intake, comparing every combination of pre-/postdiagnosis intake to low pre-/postdiagnosis intake. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: High prediagnosis grilled/barbecued and smoked meat intake was associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.46). Other associations were noted, but estimates were not statistically significant. These include high prediagnosis smoked beef/lamb/pork intake and increased all-cause (HR = 1.17, 95% CI = 0.99 to 1.38, Ptrend = .10) and breast cancer–specific (HR = 1.23, 95% CI = 0.95 to 1.60, Ptrend = .09) mortality. Also, among women with continued high grilled/barbecued and smoked meat intake after diagnosis, all-cause mortality risk was elevated 31% (HR = 1.31, 95% CI = 0.96 to 1.78). Further, breast cancer–specific mortality was decreased among women with any pre- and postdiagnosis intake of smoked poultry/fish (HR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.31 to 0.97).
Conclusion: High intake of grilled/barbecued and smoked meat may increase mortality after breast cancer.