A study being conducted by the Government General Hospital's department of surgical gastroenterology showed that eating smoked, grilled or barbequed meat increases the risk of developing cancer by nine times as compared to those who do not eat it.
The risk is higher than any of the tobacco products and alcohols, as smokers have eight times higher risk of developing cancer than non-smokers while alcoholics are at four times higher risk than those who do not consume alcohol.
The doctors revealed the findings during a scientific conference in Vancouver, Canada.
When meat or fish covered with salt, spices and oil is cooked directly over the fire, it gets covered with carcinogens that cause cancer, surgical gastroenterologist Dr S M Chandramohan said.
Agreeing with Chandramohan, Dr Rajendran Vellaisamy added that meat or fish, when cooked in coal or wood's fire, absorbs tar through smoke. He said that the tar may contain cancer-causing carcinogens.
"In that sense, eating smoked meat isn't very different from smoking tobacco," The Times of India quoted Vellaisamy as saying.
In the test, the hospital asked a set of questions to 101 cancer patients and healthy people about their eating habits and lifestyle. Latter's answers were then compared with the answers of cancer patients, and revealed that people eating smoked meat are at greater risks of getting cancer.
The doctors are, however, not certain if the smoked meat is the only reason behind food pipe cancer, but it may be one of the reasons causing the deadly disease among many.
"We're not saying 'no deep fries or smoked meat at all'. We do not have direct evidence to say that with certainty. But the study helps us know which foods are high-risk and should be avoided," Vellaisamy said.