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Anti-cancer grilling tips offered by experts

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Grilling on the barbecue and cancer

A recent report highlights the increased risk of colorectal cancer from consumption of red and processed meats.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center experts offer tips for summer grilling on the BBQ that can help prevent rather than promote cancer.

Sally Scroggs, health education manager at MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center explains how cancer causing substances find their way onto the barbecue and what to do for healthy summer outdoor meals.

Skip processed meats altogether

Research shows processed meats like pastrami, hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon, ham and sausage can lead to DNA damage that promotes colorectal cancer. Look for unprocessed brands of meats.

Focus on fish, fruits and vegetables
Portabella mushrooms are an excellent meat substitute that can be marinated and grilled and packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Grilled vegetable sandwiches on whole wheat bread or buns are easy to prepare and easy on the pocketbook.

Consider grilling fruits and vegetables, combined with fish, instead of red meats.

Fish is easy to prepare, takes less time than red meat or poultry and contains less fat.

Salmon and tuna steaks are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids and can be prepared in a variety of marinades before putting on the grill.

Can’t ditch the red meat?

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For red meat lovers, Scroggs suggests keeping consumption to a minimum of 3 six ounce servings per week can help with colorectal cancer prevention. She explains, “One serving is the size of two decks of cards.”

Trim fat and choose lean meat to avoid PAH’s - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – that drip, create smoke, then coat food and promote cancer.

Avoid burning and charring

Grilled, burned and charred meats, including fish, form heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that also damage genes and can lead to cancer of the stomach and colon.

Scroggs warns it’s important to lightly coat the grill with oil to keep charred material from sticking to foods.

Limit grilling time by cooking in the microwave first then finishing on the barbecue.

Use briquettes like hickory and maple on the barbecue to limit high heat that forms HCA’s. Cook at lower temperatures. When using charcoal, spread the coals thin and raise the grill rack with bricks.

Marinade before grilling for an anti-cancer BBQ

Scroggs says marinating meat herbs, vinegar and lemon juice before grilling - for just 30 minutes - reduces cancer causing HCA’s as much as 96 percent.

“For some grilling enthusiasts, these changes might initially be a lot to stomach,” Scroggs says. “But updating how you barbecue may mean you continue to enjoy grilling for many summers to come.”

Grilling on the barbecue doesn’t have to be a cancer promoting family affair.

Focus on fish and veggies, avoid processed meats and choose lean cuts of red meat for anti-cancer summer barbecuing….and don’t forget to clean the grill after every use to prevent cancer causing chemical buildup.

Image credit: Morguefile