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Summer Grilling: Don't eat burned meat

Grilling Hamburgers

If you have ever eaten a piece of meat that was overcooked on the grill, you have tasted the bitterness of the burned corners of the meat. Eating the blackened crust of meat cooked at very high temperatures can increase your risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancers. That is what your taste buds were trying to tell you.

Cooking meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and fish at high temperatures creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that are carcinogenic.[1] Cooking at high temperatures also produces advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) that increase inflammation and contribute to vascular and renal complications of people with diabetes.[2] One study conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found a link between individuals with stomach cancer and the consumption of cooked meats. After examining the diets and cooking habits of 176 people diagnosed with stomach cancer and 503 people without cancer, the researchers found that those who ate their beef medium-well or well-done had more than three times the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate their beef rare or medium-rare. Other studies have shown that high intakes of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats are associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer.

Frying, broiling, and barbecuing produce the largest amounts of HCAs because the meats are cooked at very high temperatures. One study showed a threefold increase in the content of HCAs when the cooking temperature was increased from 200°C to 250°C (392°F to 482°F). Oven roasting and baking are done at lower temperatures, so lower levels of HCAs are formed, but gravy or glazes made from meat drippings contain substantial amounts of HCAs. Stewing, boiling, or poaching are done at or below 100°C (212°F); cooking at this low temperature creates negligible amounts of the harmful chemicals.

To reduce burning the meat, encase it in foil, or cook it at a lower temperature.

[1] Heterocyclic Amines in Cooked Meats

[2] Negrean M, et al, Effects of low- and high-advanced glycation endproduct meals on macro- and microvascular endothelial function and oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1236-43.
PMID: 17490958

© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora