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:

  • Healthy Grilling to Prevent Heterocyclic Amines
  • Lipid Oxidation Products (LOPs)