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Beer marinades may help prevent cancer

Harold Mandel's picture
Meat being grilled on a barbecue

There have been discoveries of strong associations between poor diets and many types of cancer, with an interesting report now surfacing that beer marinades may help with this problem in some instances. Various preservatives such as nitrites in hotdogs and preservatives in processed meats have been linked to cancer. Yet, these foods are delicious and many people ignore warnings that they could be carcinogenic. Recent research that beer marinades may be helpful in lowering the carcinogenic potential of meat is therefore important.

Researchers have studied the effect of beer marinades on the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in charcoal-grilled pork, reports Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The researchers compared the effect of marinating meat with Pilsner beer, nonalcoholic Pilsner beer, and Black beer on the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in charcoal-grilled pork in comparison with the formation of these compounds in meat which was not marinated.

Black beer was found to have the strongest scavenging activity at 68.0 percent, followed by nonalcoholic Pilsner beer at 36.5 percent, and Pilsner beer at 29.5 percent. Control and marinated meat samples were found to contain eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which have been named PAH8 by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These have been classified as suitable indicators for carcinogenic potency of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are found in food.

Black beer demonstrated the highest inhibitory effect in the formation of PAH8 at 53 percent, followed by nonalcoholic Pilsner beer at 25 percent, and Pilsner beer at 13 percent. The inhibitory effect which beer marinades demonstrated on PAH8 increased with the increase of their radical-scavenging activity. Black beer was found to be the most efficient for lowering of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons formation, therefore providing a proper strategy for mitigation.

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The use of beer marinade to help possibly lower levels of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats has been reported on by the American Chemical Society on March 26, 2014 in a discussion of this research. On a bright summer day with a warm breeze the aroma of meats which are cooking on the backyard grill helps to create an alluring atmosphere with people often being highly desirous of the juicy meat being prepared. The potential for carcinogenic effects from chemicals in the meats is often ignored.

Researchers Ferreira and colleagues have explained that past studies have shown there is an association between consumption of grilled meats and an increased incidence of colorectal cancer. When meats are cooked at very high temperatures, such as on a backyard grill, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can form. High levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been found to be associated with cancers in laboratory animals. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are also
present in cigarette smoke and car exhaust.

Although the association between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and cancer in people has not been demonstrated with certainty, it appears likely. In fact the European Union Commission Regulation has established the most suitable indicators for the occurrence and carcinogenic potency of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in food and has set maximum levels of acceptance for these compounds in foods.

It has been observed in previous research that beer, wine or tea marinades can lower the levels of some potential carcinogens which may be found in in cooked meat. However, until this new research little was known about how different beer marinades may affect polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon levels. The researchers concluded the consumption of beer marinated meat can offer a suitable mitigation strategy with black beer having the strongest effect.

It has been my observation that as would be anticipated people are generally much more receptive to good health advice which they feel is enjoyable or tasty. Beer evokes positive feelings for a lot of people due to the anticipation of a euphoric feeling and the associated good taste from beer. I therefore suggest that the results of this research be aggressively shared with the public, with a goal of seeing more and more people enjoying meat grilled in beer this summer.