Can Grilling Meat Cause Cancer?

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The American Institute of Cancer Research is urging everyone to rethink the pastime of barbecuing meat.

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After analyzing the results of 7,000 studies, the Institute concluded that grilling any meat — whether red, white or fish — produces potent carcinogens.

The high heat of grilling reacts with proteins in red meat, poultry and fish, creating heterocyclic amines, which are linked to cancer. Another form of cancer-causing agents, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are created when juices from meats drip and hit the heat source. They then rise in smoke and can stick to the meat.

The Institute took particular aim at processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, pastrami, salami and any meat that has been salted, smoked or cured. The chemicals used to preserve the meat increase the production of cancer-causing compounds, regardless of how the meat is cooked.

The Institute’s report said it “could find no amount of processed meat that is safe to eat.”


* May 25, 2008

* American Institute for Cancer Research April 30, 2008

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