Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gilled Meat and Cancer Risk

This weekend is Memorial Day and with the warm temperatures we are experiencing this week it will be a perfect time to break out the grill if you have not already done so. 

Over the years, there has been some reports about potential cancer risks associated with grilling.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has been studying this issue.

The Research: AICR’s expert report and updates say there isn’t enough evidence to show that grilled meat specifically increases risk for cancers. But we do know that cooking meat at a high temperature – like grilling – creates cancer-causing substances, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These carcinogens can cause changes in the DNA that may lead to cancer.

Risk of these carcinogens forming is higher from red and processed meats – like hamburgers and hot dogs. Smoke or charring also contributes to the formation of PAHs.

Evidence is clear that diets high in red and processed meats, contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Based on the evidence, AICR recommends limiting red meat to 18 ounces of cooked meat per week and staying away from hot dogs or other processed meats.

AICR has developed this Guide to Safe Grilling to help you reduce cancer risks from grilling meats.

Follow these guidelines for healthy grilling:

  • Marinate: Studies have suggested that marinating your meat before grilling can decrease the formation fo HCAs. Scientists theorize that the antioxidants in these marinades block HCAs from forming. 
  • Pre Cook: If you are grilling larger cuts, you can reduce the time your meat is exposed to the flames by partially cooking it in a microwave, oven or stove first. Immediately place the partially cooked meat on the preheated grill. This helps keep your meat safe from bacteria and other food pathogens that can cause illness.
  • Lean Cuts: Trimming the fat off your meat can reduce flare-ups and charring. Cook your meat in the center of the grill and make sure to flip frequently.
  • Mix It Up: Cutting meat into smaller portions and mixing with veggies can help shorten cooking time. 
  • Go Green: Grilling vegetables and fruits produces no HCAs and plant-based foods are actually associated with lower cancer risk. 

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