Ohio doctor weighs in on possible link between grilling and cancer

State News

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN) – Before you fire up the grill for Memorial Day, there is research that is causing some concern about eating grilled food.

We’ve all seen the articles on social media, “the surprising thing you do that could be bad for you.” One that we came across suggested there could be a link between grilling meat and cancer, so we checked it out.

Dr. Paul Rich at Northside Regional Medical Center in Youngstown said the bottom line is don’t give away your grill just yet. He said a 2015 study found that chemicals formed during the grilling process can cause cancer in animals. The chemicals are formed when beef, pork, fish or poultry is cooked using high-temperature methods.

“The production of the chemical is resulting from just cooking the meat at very high temperatures, those temperatures would be above 350 degrees,” Rich said.

The chemicals can also be formed when smoking or pan frying meats.

The number of chemicals in the animal testing was very high, equivalent to thousands of times the amount a person would consume in a normal diet. Rich said there have been no human studies that prove a link between the chemicals and cancer.

At this time, there are no guidelines from any medical group saying to grill or not grill. There are some recommendations that can reduce the amount of chemicals when cooking meat:

  • Avoid cooking meats at high temperatures – above 300 degrees – for a long period of time
  • Flip the meat frequently – there is a belief that heterocyclic amines are produced in greater amounts when meat is left to sit and cook.
  • Pick a lean cut of meat
  • Keep water handy to pour on flames – flare-ups can increase the formation of chemicals

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