Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, in the US, found a connection between levels of nitrite and nitrate in the diet in predicting rates of bladder cancer.
People with the highest amounts of dietary nitrite, as well as those with the highest levels of nitrate had a 28-29% higher risk of bladder cancer than those with lower levels of the compound.
Writing in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers say that studies using animals have identified a number of compounds in meat that might account for this association.
Dr Amanda Cross, who led the research, commented: “Our findings highlight the importance of studying meat-related compounds to better understand the association between meat and cancer risk.”
Over 10,000 people a year are diagnosed with bladder cancer in the UK, with men twice as likely to develop the disease than women.
About 300,000 men and women in the US, aged between 50 and 71, took part in the original study during the mid-1990s. Participants were followed for up to eight years, during which time 854 of them were diagnosed with bladder cancer.