I had a neighbor many years ago that were world champion grillers. Seriously, they had the awards to prove it. But it came with a price. The wife ended up with a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. They virtually grilled everyday. Twenty to thirty years ago no one knew if grilling was dangerous. When something taste as wonderful as a grilled steak, hamburger or chicken, your brain isn't thinking it's unhealthy. So what makes grilling unhealthy?
Here is an interesting piece of information from Bon Appetit Magazine. Read on.
"On the most basic level, the smoky flavor and the char that you get from a well-grilled steak is not particularly good for you. When fat from the cooking meat drips down on the hot coals, the smoke that forms contains stuff called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). And the charred exterior of the meat (or inside, if you like things extremely well-done) is chock full of something called heterocyclic amines (HCA).
Both of these have been linked in studies, like one conducted by the National Cancer Institute in 1999, to higher rates of colorectal cancers, and both chemicals have been added to the DOH’s official list of carcinogens (PAH all the way back in 1981, HCA in 2005). In 2009, another study found that people who preferred their steaks “very well done” were 60 percent more likely to get pancreatic cancer than those who liked them bloody (or didn’t eat steak at all), and both compounds have been found to cause tumors in mice (and might cause even more tumors in humans, since mice process the chemicals differently).
Not great news. But hey, this is science! So there are, of course, a bunch of caveats. First off, no one has determined in what quantity these chemicals become carcinogenic, and as with most things, eating in moderation isn’t all that bad for you. More specifically, you can cut way, way down on the HCA action by not charring your meat (or just cutting off the charred parts) and cut the PAH by avoiding flareups, which happen when the drippings hit the heat source. Some studies recommend microwaving your meat for 30 to 90 seconds before you pop it on the grill to make it less drippy, but since that seems somehow abhorrent to the whole idea of grilling, you can also just throw some tin foil under the meat to catch the juice, or use a two-zone cooking system on a charcoal grill to make sure you’re grilling over indirect heat."
It has been recommended to spice up your food with rosemary, curcumin and other antioxidant spices to reduce the risks as mentioned above. One thing to always do if you want to grill or eat grilled food is to take Vitamin C after each meal to reduce the risk of the chemicals from causing cancer. I like eating grilled food, but I don't eat no more than once or twice month. Just like anything overindulgence can and will lead to problems.
- Ward W. Bond, Ph.D. 2014