Does Grilling Cause Cancer?


The quick answer – No,  there is no evidence that grilling causes cancer.

However, cooking meat at the high temperatures you use to grill-as well as broil and fry-creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), compounds linked with some cancers.

When you do grill, there are several things you can do to reduce HCAs and PAHs.

Grill fish – “Beef, pork and poultry tend to form more HCAs than seafood because of their higher amino acid content and longer grilling times,” says Doyle.
Prefer meat or poultry? – Trim fat to reduce drips.
Flavor meats with marinades and rubs – Research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that marinating red meat in beer or wine for two hours significantly reduced HCAs. Scientists believe the antioxidants in these marinades block HCAs from forming. Similarly, a Kansas State University study found that rubbing rosemary, an herb known for its high level of antioxidants, onto meats before grilling cut HCA levels by up to 100 percent. Herbs including basil, mint, sage and oregano may have similar effects.
Pair grilled meats with vegetables, particularly cruciferous ones – In one study, men who ate about 2½ cups of Brussels sprouts every day for three weeks reduced their DNA damage significantly. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, a compound that may help the body clear DNA-damaging compounds more quickly.
Bottom Line: Keep your grill. While some studies suggest that grilling produces compounds linked with cancer, the risks associated with eating grilled meats are relatively small when you look at the big picture.

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