Lower Your Cancer Risk by Grilling Properly

US Meat Consumption
US Meat Consumption (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In yesterday’s blog, we examined the association of processed foods (such as cold cuts and bacon) and cancer risk. We also touched on the possible link between red meat consumption and risk of cancer (including colorectal cancer). Some speculate that the iron attachment to heme in the blood may be a culprit. So what are we to do?

Lowring risk through good grilling: I do not know of a good way to take the heme iron out of meat. Still, we have some tricks to reduce the amount of potentially hazardous herterocyclic amines (HCAs) when you hit the grill.

1. Go seafood. Without charring it, it’ll have fewer HCAs than meat or poultry.

2. Marinate. Even if you simply dip the meat in the marinade just before it hits the grill.

3. Microwave the food before cooking, as you might knock off 90% of the HCAs.

4. Flip. A lot. Take out up to over 90% of the HCAs buy keeping the surface temperature lower.

5. Bake. Or roast. Or stir-fry.

6. Boil, steam, stew, or poach. Or even microwave. As the temperature doesn’t pass the water boiling point, you won’t create HCAs.

7. Don’t eat the pan drippings. They may have more HCAs than the meat itself!

8. Your mom was right: Eat your veggies. Few or no HCAs. Extra points if you have cruciferous veggies such as broccoli or brussel sprouts, as they may help your liver detoxify HCAs.

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and since I’m a Seattle guy, I’m off to grill some salmon!

Nutrition Reviews 63: 158, 2005; Rev. Food Sci. Food Safety 10: 52, 2100.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. And have a great day!

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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