By being careful and making wise choices, you can
enjoy your summer barbeques without having to worry
about cancer-causing chemicals in your food.
That's the word of the day from the Dana-Farber Cancer
High-heat grilling can convert proteins in red meat,
pork, poultry and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs),
which have been linked to a number of cancers. Another
potential cancer-causing chemical called polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is found in the smoke
created when fat and juices drip on hot coals or rocks
in a barbeque. The smoke can deposit the PAHs on the
surface of the meat.
The institute offered the following safe grilling
- Select lean cuts of meat. Trim all excess fat
and remove skin.
- When using marinades, choose thinner ones. Thicker
marinades tend to char, possibly increasing exposure
to carcinogenic compounds. Use marinades that contain
vinegar and/or lemon.
- Partially cook meat in the microwave before you
put in on the grill. This will reduce the time needed
to cook the meat on the grill. Making sure meat
is thawed will also reduce cooking time on the grill.
- Discard juices before you grill. This will reduce
- Flip burgers often - once every minute.
- Place food six inches from heat source.
- Create a barrier -- such as a sheet of aluminum
foil with holes poked in it -- to prevent meat juices
from spilling onto hot coals and producing harmful
- Smaller cuts of meat, such as kabobs, take less
time to cook.
- Grill vegetables. They don't contain the protein
that forms HCAs.
Vangsness emphasized that people need to keep their
grilling-related cancer risk in proper perspective.
"If you're grilling and following the proper safety
tips, the risk of getting cancer from grilling food
is extremely low," she said in a prepared statement.
She also said people should eat a diet rich in fruits
and vegetables, which contain protective antioxidants.