Your barbecue and pancreatic cancer



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How do you like your meat? Rare or well-done?

The barbecue season has opened in many parts of the world. And meat is the staple of most barbecues. Meat that is well-done, sometimes even slightly burnt. Researchers from the University of Minnesota is warning us that regular consumption of meat, especially when well-done and charred, can increase our risk for pancreatic cancer by 60%. How does this happen?

According to the American Cancer Society

Cooking meats at very high temperatures creates chemicals (heterocyclic amines, or HAs) that might increase cancer risk. Heterocyclic amines (HAs) are created by the burning of amino acids and other substances in meats cooked at particularly high temperatures and that are particularly well-done. HAs turn up in grilled and barbecued meat as well as broiled and pan-fried meat.

The study surveyed more than 62,000 people and their eating habits, e.g. meat consumption, preference in meat preparation and “doneness”. The study participants were followed up for about 9 years as part of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLO) screening trial.

Choose lean cuts of meat and trim any excess fat. Fat dripping onto hot coals causes smoke that contains potential carcinogens. Less fat means less smoke.

Line the grill with foil and poke small holes in it so the fat can still drip off, but the amount of smoke coming back onto the meat is lower.

Avoid charring meat or eating parts that are especially burned and black – they have the highest concentrations of HAs.

Add colorful vegetables and fruit to the grill. Many of the chemicals that are created when meat is grilled are not formed during the grilling of vegetables or fruits, so you can enjoy grilled flavor worry-free. Red, yellow, and green peppers, yellow squash, mushrooms, red onions, and pineapple all grill well and make healthy additions to your plate.

This is not the first study to indicate that meat consumption can have some detrimental effects on our health, regardless of food preparation. According to the National Institutes of Health, four ounces of red meat per day is the limit for the average adult. However, most Americans consume more than that. Or any barbecue loving people for that matter.

Red meat, be it as steak, burger, or sausage, not only increases your risk for cancer, but for cardiovascular disease as well. It is rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. You can also check out some tips on how to make your barbecue more heart-friendly at Battling Heart Disease and Stroke.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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