Pan-frying meat with gas may be worse than electricity for raising cancer risk

February 17, 2010, British Medical Journal

Frying meat on a gas hob may be more harmful to health than using an electric hob, because of the type of fumes it produces, suggests research published ahead of print in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Professional chefs and cooks may be particularly at risk.

Cooking fumes produced during high temperature frying have recently been classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Potentially harmful or PAHs for short, heterocyclic amines, and higher and mutagenic aldehydes, along with fine and , have all been found in cooking fumes, using vegetable oils, such as safflower, soya bean, and rapeseed oils, as well as lard.

But it is not clear if the energy source or the type of fat used for cooking have any impact on fume content.

The research team simulated the conditions found in a typical Western European restaurant kitchen, frying 17 pieces of steak, weighing 400 g each, for 15 minutes.

They used either margarine or two different brands of soya bean oil to cook the steak on gas and electric hobs. The margarine contained a blend of soya bean, rapeseed, coconut and palm oils as well as vitamins A and D, but no hydrogenated fats.

They measured the amount of PAH, aldehydes, and total particulate matter produced in the breathing zone of the cook.

Napthalene - a banned chemical contained in traditional mothballs - was the only PAH detected and ranged from 0.15 to 0.27 ug/m3 air in 16 of the 17 meat samples. The highest levels were produced when frying with margarine on the gas hob.

Higher aldehydes were produced during the frying of all the samples, while mutagenic aldehydes were produced for most samples.

Overall levels ranged from undetectable to 61.80 ug/m3 air, but the highest levels were found when frying on the gas hob, irrespective of the type of fat used.

The peak number of ultrafine particles during frying on the gas hob was considerably higher than when cooking with electricity. Particle size with gas was 40 to 60 nm compared with 80 to 100 nm with electricity. Ultrafine particles are more readily absorbed into the lung.

The authors point out that the levels of PAHs and particulate matter found during this study were below accepted occupational safety thresholds. But they add that cooking fumes contain various other harmful components for which there is as yet no clear safety threshold, and gas cooking seems to increase exposure to these components.

"Exposure to cooking fumes should be reduced as much as possible," they caution.

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Feb 17, 2010
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5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2010
As my wife said, "I think living increases your risk of cancer." Stop worrying folks. The stress is gunna kill ya.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2010
We are all born sick unto death. What we do in the interim is what counts. Life is a journey, enjoy the ride. namaste
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2010
we evolved over 800,000 yrs eating meats cooked over a fire. I think our bodies can handle it.
not rated yet Feb 18, 2010
"probably carcinogenic"? Oh please! Does ANYBODY actually do any proper research any more?
not rated yet Feb 18, 2010
Sampled in above posts, are all the classic retorts used for decades by tobacco, alcohol, sex, and other types of addicts -- as well as by propagandists/apologists for the respective industries.

I think the point of the article isn't that we shouldn't eat cooked meat. It's that slow-cooked meat is better for you. Which in itself isn't much of a revelation: we've known for a long time that charred meat is quite full of poisons. Pot roast is where it's at!
not rated yet Feb 19, 2010
I find articles discussing cancer to be interesting, because everything I've read so far suggests that cancer is the result of an immunological disorder rather than directly caused by environmental factors.

Cell mutations occur constantly throughout the life of animals, whose immune systems fight it regularly. If the immune system is compromised or forced to fight another foreign body, it diverts the immune system from fighting cancer. This is why chemotherapy has been linked to cancer, because the immune system is destroyed from within bone marrow prior to rebuilding through chemical treatments. Antibodies are extremely effective under normal circumstances.

Am I mistaken, here?

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