Monday, June 10, 2013

What's up with grilling and cancer?

I love barbeque! But all over the net are creeping warnings about how charring food means carcinogens--cancer-causing stuff. Doom, gloom.

A nutritionist from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says you may not have to give up the summer treats, but should probably plan ahead.

High-heat grilling can convert proteins in red meat, poultry and fish into heterocyclic amines, which have been linked to various types of cancer. High temp changes the shape of the protein structure and makes it an irritant.

Another cancer-causing agent is found in smoke, which sticks to the surface of the meat.

To avoid the worst of this, choose  lean cuts of meat instead of ribs and sausage.

Trim excess fat and remove skin.

Use thinner marinades--the thick ones tend to char. Also look for marinades with vinegar and lemon, which provide a protective barrier.

Thaw meat first, limit time on the grill. Maybe grill kabobs, which mean less cooking time.

Partiually cook meat and fish in the microwave and discard the juices.

Flip burgers often to prevent burning.

Place food at least six inches from the coals.

Charred veggies are OK!

But--the nutritionist says--keep this in perspective. The risk of cancer from a summer picnic is pretty darn low.

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