What kind of grilled foods are not good for cancer patients?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 05, 2016
Adele127 asked...

An answer indicated that grilled foods were not good for cancer patients. I have heard so many conflicting comments regarding this. Could you please clarify; Grilled - does this mean cooked on a flat surface grill? Does it mean a b.b.q. grill / gas or electric? Does it mean that you s/not allow meats or veggies to flare up on the grill? Does it mean under no circumstances s/one eat anything grilled,no matter the method.


Expert Answers

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

Yours is a very good question and one that I am sure could use some clarification for many people. The short answer is that grilling meats can increase the formation of two compounds that have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. One group of compounds, known as HCAs (heterocyclic amines) are formed when protein from beef, pork, fish or poultry (note: not vegetables), is cooked using high heat or prolonged cooking methods. This refers to any form of high heat "“ from the outdoor grill to your oven or the top of the stove. PAHs (polycyclic amine hydrocarbons) are the second group of compounds formed when fats drip from the meats and causes flare ups. The resulting smoke contains PAHs. The good news is that you do not need to give up using your grill, and there are simple things that you can do to reduce your cancer risk that are both tasty and health promoting. For example marinating the meat in an acid based marinade (one that contains any citrus juice, pineapple, yogurt or buttermilk) for at least 40 minutes will reduce the formation of HCAs by up to 99%. Antioxidant rich herbs such as turmeric, rosemary, garlic, oregano, basil and thyme added to an oil based marinade will also reduce the formation of these compounds. Below you will find some other guidelines that will help you to relax and safely enjoy your summer grilling!

To further reduce the formation and consumption of HCAs and PAHs:

  1. Try cooking with cherries and blueberries. Researchers at Michigan State University found that the addition of one cup of ground tart cherries to a pound of ground meat prior to cooking reduced the HCAs produced by nearly 69 to 78.5 percent. Why? Cherries are rich in antioxidants.

  2. Turn the meat often until it reaches a safe internal temperature. This will decrease the amount of charring, thereby decreasing the amount of HCAs formed.

  3. Remove any charred or blackened portions on the food prior to eating. Know however, that the compounds will penetrate the meat so do your best to prevent this from happening at all.

  4. Low temperatures and long cooking times will lower the formation of HCAs.

  5. Consider pre-cooking meats in the microwave or boil; then finish cooking on the grill.

  6. Use thinner slices of meat to help them cook faster with less heat.

  7. Remove all visible fat that can cause a flare up.

  8. Wrap meats and fish in foil with holes punched in it to let fat drip away from the meat.

Check out these websites for more helpful information and ideas on cooking:

http://www.spicesforhealth.com. Understanding Cancer Series: Cancer and the Environment (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/understandingcancer/environment) What You Need To Know Aboutâ„¢ Cancer (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/cancer)


Community Answers

Yousuf answered...

So for breast cancer patients it is better not to take any fast food