(Health Secrets) Everyone loves a steak sizzling on the barbeque, but overcooked or charred meat could double your risk of getting bladder cancer, according to a Texas based study. The study supports the belief that burnt food can be carcinogenic, as well as the idea that eating too much red meat can increase the risk of developing cancer. It also indicates that genetic factors play a part in these trends.
What does the study show?
The study, undertaken by the University of Texas over 12 years, looked at over 1700 subjects. It was discovered that people who regularly ate well done or overcooked meat were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer as those who preferred to eat their meat rare.
The results also showed that people eating a lot of overcooked red meat such as pork chops, steak or bacon were at a higher risk of developing bladder cancer than people consuming white meat, although chicken and fish still increase cancer risk when they are fried.
Professor Xifeng Wu, lead author of the study, explained, “These results strongly support what we suspected – people who eat a lot of red meat, particularly well-done red meat, such as fried or barbecued, seem to have a higher likelihood of bladder cancer.”
During the study, the DNA of each subject was also analyzed to identify different ways of metabolizing the overcooked meat. The results suggest that the presence of certain genes made subjects up to five times more likely to develop bladder cancer when they ate a lot of overcooked red meat.
How can charred meat cause bladder cancer?
Burning or charring meat can lead to the production of cancer causing chemicals known as HCAs, or heterocyclic amines. There are known to be 17 different HCAs that can increase the risk of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. It is the increase of HCAs in the body due to the consumption of overcooked meat that can increase the risk of bladder cancer.
Other types of cancer linked with overcooked food
A Dutch study that took place in 2007 linked ovarian cancer with overcooked foods, and warned women of the dangers of eating fried foods. Pancreatic cancer has also been linked to charred meat, and there is a great deal of evidence that an excess of red meat can lead to bowel cancer.
Barbeque food safety tips
Of course one of the reasons people often overcook food on a barbeque is that they’re worried about getting food poisoning from undercooked food. No one wants to send their guests home with a queasy tummy, and E.coli, salmonella and campylobacter can cause serious illness. Here are ten tips for barbequing safely, and reaching a balance between under and overcooked.
- Limit the amount of red meat on the barbeque and replace some of it with chicken or fish. Make sure you have plenty of salads as well.
- Reduce the risk of cancer causing chemicals in barbequed food by not allowing the flames to touch the food.
- Wait until the coals are glowing red, with a powdery grey surface, before you start to cook.
- Make sure chicken, pork, burgers, sausages and kebabs are cooked until they’re steaming hot all the way through, none of the meat is pink and the juices run clear.
- Make sure frozen food is thoroughly defrosted before you put it on the barbeque.
- Don’t place raw meat next to cooked meat on the barbeque, wait for everything on the barbeque to be cooked and removed before you add anything raw.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
- Cook on a lower heat for a longer period of time, perhaps by raising the grill higher above the coals.
- Move food around regularly on the barbeque, and turn it frequently to prevent charring and to cook evenly.
- If you’re barbequing a large volume of meat, consider cooking it in a conventional oven and just finishing it off on a barbeque for added flavor.
Photo by Michael Berch