Obama and Cameron hold BBQ, but Cancer experts say watch it


Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Chargrilled meat has its dangers

It’s BBQ season :

Obama and Cameron had a big BBQ in Downing Street garden,

Prince William was photographed in his apron in New Zealand –

However, before you get the charcoal fired up, there are warnings (there would be, wouldn’t there?)

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) advises people to limit their intake of red meats such as beef, pork and lamb, and to avoid processed meat such as ham and salami altogether (so no ham salad as a side dish).

The charity kickstarted a global debate in 2007 when it published a study which identified meat as a risk factor for a number of different forms of cancer.

Now more research comes out blaming HCAs – Heterocyclic amines which are chemicals found when grilling meat directly over a high flame.  Studies have found this gave animals cancer – so far jury out re humans.  But best to avoid them.

Now Cancer Research UK adds to message

Hazel Nunn, a senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, says:

“With barbeque season just round the corner, this is a timely reminder that …. how much red and processed meat and fibre you eat can all have a bearing on your risk of bowel cancer.”

Authorities are divided about dangers from chargrilled meat, but latest guidelines advise

1. Turn burgers, chops, sausages etc. frequently.  Turning burgers once a minute and cooking over lower heat reduces HCAs and kills potentially deadly E. coli bacteria, according to a new study at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. (HCA = heterocyclic amines are chemicals formed when grilling mmat directly over open flame, and probably might cause cancer in animals).

2. Use the right marinade. Slash HCAs by marinating raw meat in a thin, very liquid sauce for at least 10 minutes, or more to taste. The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii found that a teriyaki marinade reduced HCAs 67%; a turmeric-garlic sauce, 50%. The key is to use a watery sauce: When a thick, concentrated commercial barbecue sauce was used, it actually tripled HCAs. So dilute thick sauces.

3. Add garlic and herbs. In tests, garlic, rosemary and sage reduced HCAs. Mix them into burgers or use them in marinades. Antioxidants in citrus fruits also block HCAs.

4. Use common-sense.  The longer meat is cooked at high temperatures (grilling, broiling, frying) the more HCAs are produced. But you need to ensure meat and especially chicken is cooked right through.  Always cook burgers, pork and poultry well-done to avoid food poisoning, but avoid burnt food.  If you have a meat thermometer. make sure a burger’s internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, needed to deactivate E. coli. Just because meat is brown doesn’t mean it’s thoroughly cooked.

5.  Grill “green.” Fruits and vegetables don’t contain creatine, the animal protein needed to make HCAs. Corn on the cob, pineapple and peppers are great grilled. Also, eating fruits, vegetables and green salads along with barbecued meat lessens the cancer hazard.

WCRF-funded scientists at Imperial College London led by Dr Teresa Norat studied 263 research papers that have come out since then looking at the role of diet, weight and physical activity in bowel cancer. An independent panel of leading cancer experts then reviewed their conclusions. “For red and processed meat, findings of 10 new studies were added to the 14 analysed as part of the 2007 report. The panel confirmed that there is convincing evidence that both red and processed meat increase bowel cancer risk,” said the report .

“WCRF recommends that people limit consumption to 500g (cooked weight) of red meat a week – roughly the equivalent of five or six medium portions of roast beef, lamb or pork – and avoid processed meat,” it added. About 36,000 Britons a develop bowel cancer every year, and some 16,500 die from it. It is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer.

About 17,000 cases a year (43%) could be prevented if people ate less meat and more fibre, drank less, maintained a healthy weight and kept active, the WCRF says.

People should cut down to 70g.  meat per serving.  A 70g serving could be a lamb chop or two standard beef burgers.

WCRF’s review has also firmed up from “probable” to “convincing” its view of the protection against bowel cancer afforded by eating foods containing fibre, such as wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables.

However, Chris Lamb, a spokesman for England’s pig, beef and lamb farmers, said: “Average consumption has been in or around 500g a week for a few years. The vast majority of consumers aren’t exceeding this and don’t have to worry about [this]”, he said.

Consumers eat and enjoy meat as part of a balanced diet, and meat plays a valuable part in that balanced diet”, said Lamb. “If you eat or drink anything in excess it’s a danger. Therefore, if you can pick on meat in order to get headlines, then you aren’t actually helping consumers.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, said red meat can form part of a healthy, balanced diet. “It is a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins,” she said, “but people who eat a lot of red and processed meat should consider cutting down. The occasional steak or extra few slices of lamb is fine but regularly eating a lot could increase your risk of bowel cancer.”

So message is throw a few more corn cobs on the barbie.

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