Some of the biggest sources of mammary carcinogens in the environment are benzene and butadiene, which can come from vehicle exhaust, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke and charred food.

London - Real men, it is said, don’t eat quiche – they eat meat.

And it appears there may be some truth in the saying after all.

Researchers from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, have found that men believe eating meat makes them more manly.

Professor Hank Rothgerber, who has published his research in the journal Men and Masculinity, said that meat eating was linked with “manhood, power, and virility”.

He said: “There is a group of manly men who swear off what they call chick food.

“Meat consumption is a symbol of patriarchy resulting from its long-held alliance with manhood, power, and virility.”

The men questioned in the study said animals “just taste too good not to eat them”, whereas women were more apologetic about eating meat.

The study surveyed 125 undergraduate psychology students for the first study, and 89 for the second.

They were all students in their late teens and early 20s.

Rothgerber found: “Men expressed more favourable attitudes towards eating meat, denied animal suffering. [They] believed that animals were lower in a hierarchy than humans, provided religious and health justifications for consuming animals, and believed that it was human destiny to eat meat.

“These are direct, unapologetic strategies that embrace eating meat and justify the practice.”

While the professor admits his study was limited, he believes there could be even more pressure to “prove manhood” by eating more meat.

Whether it is hunting for animals, flipping the burgers on the braai, or carving the Sunday roast, past studies have shown the association between men and meat is as old as the hills.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia revealed that vegetarian men were seen as wimps and less macho than those who liked tucking into a steak – even by women who did not eat meat themselves.

They gave hundreds of young men and women descriptions of fictional students, varying only according to diet, and asked them to rate aspects of the fictional students’ personalities. The vegetarian characters were seen as being more virtuous.

Further questioning revealed that men who did not eat meat were also viewed as less masculine than the others – even by vegetarians.

Last year, a team from the University of Pennsylvania and Brian Wansink of Cornell University showed consumers linked meat with masculinity and concluded it was “a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing food”.

Rothgerber said he had set out to find out why so many people clung to their meat-eating habits despite research showing that eating a lot of meat was bad for health and for the environment.

He said: “There’s a growing awareness that it’s not great to eat meat, but still, people are doing it.” – Daily Mail