June 19, 2024

Use High Heat to Cook Meat? Rethink That Technique

A new study published in the journal Cancer has found that cooking beef at high temperatures may lead to an increased risk of developing kidney cancer. Carcinogenic compounds are created in the meat when grilled, barbecued, and pan-fried. The study was conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Renal cell carcinoma affects 60,000 new patients every year. About 14,000 people die of this illness every year in the Untied States. The incidence of this type of cancer has been increasing for decades.

Meat on GrillDr. Stephanie Melkonian, Epidemiology postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the study said, “this study encourages us to look not only at what foods we’re eating, but also how we’re preparing those foods.” When you cook meat with high temperature, causing charring on the meat, carcinogens can form. Red meat has more muscle and fat than white meats, so it is more likely to produce carcinogens.

There is more and more evidence that eating red, pressed, charred, and smoked meats increases the risk of developing colon and kidney cancers. Some people are more susceptible to these carcinogens based on their genetics and family history. People with specific genetic mutations are more susceptible to the harmful compounds.

The kidney, as well as the liver, functions to remove toxins from the body. Our diets are full of toxins, so investigating the types of foods eaten and how they are cooked makes sense.

Researchers looked at eating patterns and collected genetic information from 650 people who were recently diagnosed with kidney cancer. This information was compared to data from 699 healthy people. The scientists found that kidney cancer patients ate more meat, both red and white, than the health persons.

Moreover, people with variations in the gene ITPR2 are more vulnerable to the effects of eating one particular type of carcinogen called 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenyl-imidazo(4,5-b) pyridine, or PhIP. This gene is associated with the risk of developing kidney cancer. This association may be explained by exposure to the carcinogens produced when cooking meat.

The scientists advise people, particularly those with a family history of cancer, to reduce consumption of meat, especially that cooked over an open flame or grill and cooked at high temperatures. A plant based diet is safer for that population as well. In addition, cook meat in the oven or microwave or slow cooker to reduce the development of carcinogens. Indirect heat cooking methods are the safest. Use an acidic marinade before cooking the meat to reduce carcinogens, and trim fat off cuts before cooking.

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