How to reduce meat’s cancer threat

If you’re concerned about the potential cancer risk associated with meat, but still feel it’s an important part of a well-balance diet,  I have a tip for you — especially if you love the taste of it fresh off the grill.

Even before the World Health Organization came out with news that red meat has been classified as a ‘probably carcinogen,’ researchers found evidence that cooking meat at high temperatures, like on a grill, produced carcinogens known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are linked to colorectal cancer, and they’re also found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust.

But researchers at Ohio State University have come up with an easy method to keep the great taste without the cancer.

The secret is to first marinade the meat with beer before it goes on the grill.

When the scientists grilled meat that had been soaked in beer, they found that the preparation cut the formation of eight PAHs by about 50 percent. In the test, dark beer worked the best.

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Spices that beat the cancer in meat

You can further decrease threats from HCAs by adding a few choice spices including:

  • Cloves
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Cinnamon
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder

However there are other dangers that beer and spices may not help. They’re known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

In grilled meat, AGEs are found in the browned areas of well-done meat, which are formed when a sugar molecule combines with fats or other compounds in the high heat. About 10 percent of the AGES in your food are absorbed into your body and can stay there for a very long time.

A review of 30 epidemiological studies found that 80 percent showed a link between eating well-done meat and cancer. [1] A separate study also found a link between charred meat and pancreatic cancer, with those eating the most very well done meat at a 70 percent increased risk compared to those who ate the least. [2]

You can cut-down on your risk from the AGEs in well-done meat by avoiding charring your food. Also avoid grilling meats that are considered the worst offenders for carcinogens like hot dogs, bratwurst and other processed meats.

Americans love to grill. According to consumer reports many of us do it year round, even in snow, sleet and rain. But knowing about potential dangers, you can still enjoy this great American tradition and feel safer by making these minor changes to the way you prepare and grill your meat of choice.

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[1] Nutrition Reviews 2005 May;63(5):158-65.
[2] April 22, 2009

Easy Health Options Staff

By Easy Health Options Staff

Submitted by the staff at Easy Health Options®.