grilling and cancer

The Link Between Grilling and Cancer (And How to Protect Yourself!)

by Kelley Herring on December 6, 2012

Summertime is prime time for backyard barbeques. But before you fire up that grill, you should know that studies show a link between grilling and cancer.

Grilling and Cancer: Heterocyclic Amines

National Cancer Institute (NCI) studies found that compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) are formed in muscle meats during cooking at high temperatures.

HCA’s are created when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react at high heat. The resulting chemicals, 17 of which researchers have identified, may increase your risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, lung and breast cancers.

Grilling and Cancer: Reduce Your Risk… with a Marinade?

The good news is that even briefly marinating foods is effective in reducing the amount of HCAs—in some cases, as much as 92 to 99 percent! Researchers have found that spices, herbs, garlic, vinegars, teas and other plants contain powerful antioxidants that help to neutralize heterocyclic amines.

Make your grilled goodies healthier by marinating first, cooking at a lower temperature for less time (not well-done). Learn more about how cooking methods can promote cancer and the foods, nutrients and techniques you can use to protect yourself:


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About The Author

Kelley Herring, founder of Healing Gourmet, is a natural nutrition enthusiast with a background in biochemistry. Her passion is educating on how foods promote health and protect against disease and creating simple and delicious recipes for vibrant health and enjoyment.

Kelley Herring – who has written posts on Healing Gourmet.

Ward, M.H., et al. 1997. Risk of adenocarcinoma of the stomach and esophagus with meat cooking method and doneness preference. International Journal of Cancer 71(March 28):14-19.Layton DW, Bogen KT, Knize MG, et al. Cancer risk of heterocyclic amines in cooked foods: an analysis and implications for research. Carcinogenesis 1995; 16(1):39-52. Muscat JE, Wynder EL. The consumption of well-done meat and the risk of colorectal cancer. American Journal of Public Health 1994; 84:856-8. Snyderwine EG. Some perspectives on the nutritional aspects of breast cancer research. Food-derived heterocyclic amines as etiologic agents in human mammary cancer. Cancer 1994; 74:1070-7. Salmon CP, et al. 1997. Effects of marinating on heterocyclic amine carcinogen formation in grilled chicken. Food Chem Toxicol 35:433-41.

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