What you need to know about grilling and cancer

For many Americans, cooking dinner on the grill is the perfect way to spend a summer evening. Unfortunately, some research indicates that cooking meat at very high temperatures (usually by grilling or pan-frying) can form chemicals that change the meat’s DNA and may increase your risk of certain cancers. So far this has only been shown in animals—not in humans—but it is something to be aware of. The good news is, according to the National Cancer Institute, there are ways you can enjoy grilled food more healthfully.

  • Shish kebabCook meat in a microwave or oven prior to grill exposure to reduce the amount of time it’s exposed to high temperatures. Be sure to move the meat to the grill immediately after the initial cooking to maintain food safety.
  • Continuously flip meat as you cook it.
  • Remove charred and fatty portions of meat.
  • Cook leaner meats like chicken, or eat smaller portions and focus your meal on grilled fruits and vegetables. Have you tried grilled peaches or pineapple? Kabobs are also a great way to incorporate more produce into your meal.
  • Marinating the meat may reduce formation of carcinogens, according to at least one study. Plus, you’ll have a more flavorful meal!

The bottom line is you don’t need to stop grilling completely, but it may be beneficial to your health to incorporate some of these methods at your next cookout.