Summer is well underway, and what better way to celebrate this time of year than firing up the grill and barbecuing with friends? But before you get started on your hot weather festivities, you might want to consider some of the dangers of this seemingly innocent cooking style.
Did you know that charring meat over an open flame can be hazardous to your health? Grilling protein-filled foods, such as hot dogs and hamburgers, can form substances known as HCA and PAH (heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). HCA occurs when foods are cooked at higher temperatures and create a charred coating on the outside of meats. HCAs are also found in cigarette smoke and have been associated with cancers of the stomach, colon, liver and skin. PAHs form when juice from meat drips onto hot coal, creating smoke. According to the Cancer Research Institute, “HCAs and PAHs have been found to be mutagenic—that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.”
Does this mean you should rethink all your summer plans? Not exactly. Although grilling may come with some risks, there are some other ways to help minimize the risks of both HCAs and PAHs.