To grill or not to grill

 
By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 12th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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To grill, or not to grill, that is the question.

Is it safer to suffer the cancerous slings and arrows of delicious charbroiling?

Or is it better to forego the flame, forsake the flavor and forget the fat falling into the fire?

Scientists at the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest the answer lies in the heat.

Undoubtedly, cancer risks from grilling are real. One study found that people who eat lots of barbecued red meat almost double their risk of colon polyps, which can develop into cancer.

The villains are chemical compounds that form when we subject our ground meat, steaks and ribs to extremely high temperatures.

This holds true to a lesser extent for chicken and fish. The meat proteins react to heat to form substances that can damage our DNA.

In Shakespeare’s day, it wasn’t a big problem. Patrons at the Globe Theatre appeased themselves with apples and supped on soups.

Alas, the kindly kitchen took a cancerous turn with the advent of meat aisles and gas grills. For us, the best defense is to cook meat at lower temperatures: Roast it in the oven or stew it.

If the open flame beckons, turn down the gas, raise the grill surface or wait for charcoal to stop flaring. Remember to marinate. And turn food often, about once a minute.

The goal is to avoid black char that forms on meat.

The American Cancer Society says that it’s OK to occasionally eat grilled meat. But if you’re truly concerned, just skip it.

Or, as the bard might advise, neither a barbecuer nor a broiler be.