March 5, 2011

013 Healthy Barbecuing [25 May 2009]

Although it may not feel like it yet, summer is coming and with it barbecue season. Did you know that the way you barbecue meats could be inadvertently adding carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) to your diet?

Cooking any meat (steak, chicken or fish) at high temperature, whether frying, grilling or barbecuing, creates some nasty chemicals which have been linked to several forms of cancer.  These chemicals include:
·        HCAs – Heterocyclic Amines – forms in the black charred meat
·        PAHs – Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – forms from the smoke of burning fat
·        AGEs – Advanced Glycation End Products – increase risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease

A recent cancer study called PLCO Multi-Center Screening Trial found a 60% increase in pancreatic cancer for those who preferred their steak well done. An earlier study found a doubling of risk of breast cancer in women who ate the most well-done meat. Other studies have linked increased risk of breast and prostate cancer with consumption of charred meat and their byproducts.

Here are some simple things you can do to reduce your risk and still enjoy barbecue season:
·        Barbecue less often and eat smaller portions of grilled meats
·        Don’t grill fatty meats and trim visible fat off before grilling
·        Never grill processed meats like wieners and smokies
·        Marinade the meat before grilling to reduce PAH and AGE formation
·        Use a lower heat and keep meat up out of direct flame
·        Flip your burgers frequently to reduce HCA formation
·        Throw out burned meat if there is too much black to trim off

So, don’t throw out your barbecue, and don’t stop eating meat (the same study that found double breast cancer risk with overcooked meat, found no added risk with eating normally cooked meat). Take a few simple precautions and enjoy a healthy summer barbecue season!

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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