Grillin’ is Killin’: Cancer Culprit Uncovered
Since July 4th is approaching, this seems like an ideal opportunity to warn you about the possible dangers you may be exposed to while celebrating our freedom. Did you know that cooking meat at high temperatures creates carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds? This is true and well understood within the medical community.
Why is Grilling Meat Bad?
Okay, brace yourself for some fancy science terms. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are some of the by-products that form when beef, poultry, fish or pork is grilled. At high temperatures, HCAs are produced when meat and sugars combine forming the new compound. In contrast, PAHs form when flames flare up due to fat drippings. Of course, well-done meat will contain higher amounts of these cancer-causing agents. Some studies have linked well done, fried, or barbecued meats with higher risks of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. Animal studies have linked such exposure to breast, colon, liver, skin, lung, gastrointestinal, and prostate cancers and leukemia.
In addition to HCAs and PAHs, advanced glycation end products (AGEs) may form as a result of cooking meats at high temperatures as well. Although not directly implicated in cancer, AGEs contribute significantly to oxidative damage and inflammation in the body particularly by negatively impacting how blood vessels are able to function. AGEs also promote aging and chronic diseases. So if you’d like to live a long “free” life, it’s probably worth considering other options.
What Alternative Approaches Can be Used to Decrease Exposure to Unhealthy Compounds in Grilled Meat?
In addition to using grass-fed beef for your burgers and nitrate-free hotdogs, consider the following modifications to reduce your risk of exposure:
– Grill veggies! They don’t contain the blend of proteins and fats in meat that promote formation of HCAs, PAHs and AGEs even if they are charred.
– Precook the meat on the stovetop, or in the microwave/oven to reduce the amount of heat required to grill the meat.
– Marinate the meat with a rub containing antioxidant-rich thyme or rosemary.
– Including acidic ingredients in the marinate-rub can decrease AGEs formation.
– Avoid eating the charred portion of the meat.
– Don’t use drippings from fat to make gravy or other sauces.
Thanks for reading this article! Please share it with someone you care about for a healthy holiday. Take care!
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