Safer grilling methods might cut cancer risk

June 18, 2012
Safer grilling methods might cut cancer risk
Expert offers tips for healthier outdoor cooking.

(HealthDay) -- A few simple changes in how people grill outdoors, such as avoiding too much beef or processed meats and not charring foods, can aid in cancer prevention, according to an expert.

"Two aspects of the traditional American cookout, what you grill and how you grill it, can potentially raise ," Alice Bender, a dietitian with the American Institute for Cancer Research, said in an institute news release. "Diets that feature big portions of red and have been shown to make colorectal cancer more likely. Evidence that grilling itself is a risk factor is less strong, but it only makes sense to take some easy cancer-protective precautions," she added.

One way to help prevent cancer is to avoid overcooking foods on the grill, Bender said. Charring, she explained, results in the formation of cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and (PAHs).

Bender offered four other ways to grill more safely:

  • Add color (but not red meat). By cutting back on and grilling a wider variety of colorful , people will increase their intake of phytochemicals. These naturally occurring compounds found in plants offer protection against cancer, Bender said. She suggested grilling vegetables like asparagus, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and corn on the cob, which can be grilled whole, in chunks or in a basket. When grilling fruits, she noted, brush them with olive oil so they won't stick. Bender added that fruits should be grilled a day or two before they are completely ripe so they retain their texture.
  • Mix it up. Opt for chicken or fish instead of hamburgers or hotdogs.
  • Marinate. Marinating meat reduces the formation of HCAs, Bender advised. Marinating meats in seasoned vinegar or lemon juice for even just 30 minutes can be beneficial, she noted.
  • Pre-cook (partially). Pre-cooking meat will reduce the amount of time it spends exposed to high heat on the grill and reduce the formation of HCAs. Bender cautioned that partially pre-cooked meats should be transferred from the kitchen to the grill right away.
  • Cook slowly. By grilling meats slowly at a lower heat, they are less likely to burn or char. Bender said this will reduce the amount of HCAs and PAHs that end up on people's plates.
Bender added that visible fat should be trimmed off meats to avoid high flames or flare-ups, and that any charred portions of meat should also be cut off.

Explore further: The Medical Minute: Heart-healthy eating over the summer

More information: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about grilling safety.


Related Stories

The Medical Minute: Heart-healthy eating over the summer

June 27, 2011
Summer is here. With it comes hotter temperatures, longer daylight, vacations, backyard grilling, and picnics. Think it’s too hard to maintain heart healthy eating habits at the neighborhood picnic? Use the 10 tips below ...

Recommended for you

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

One e-cigarette with nicotine leads to adrenaline changes in nonsmokers' hearts

September 20, 2017
A new UCLA study found that healthy nonsmokers experienced increased adrenaline levels in their heart after one electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with nicotine but there were no increased adrenaline levels when the study ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.