Cooking meat at high temperatures like grilling, or even roasting and frying can cause chemical reactions that release some nasty toxins in the air and our bodies. Higher cooking temperatures can create chemical reactions among amino acids, creatines, and sugars, these are the reactions that may produce dangerous carcinogens and mutagens The formation of HCAs and PAHs varies by meat type, cooking method, and “doneness” level (rare, medium, or well done). A study on over 3,000 women found those who consumed a large amount of grilled meat over the course of a year had a 47 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products ): Fat, protein, heat can be a sign of touble. Cooking at high heat can produce a chemical reaction between the fat and protein in meat, creating toxins called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. These toxins are linked to the imbalance of antioxidants in the body (aka oxidant stress), along with inflammation, which can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease .
- PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons): PAHs, are a group of over 100 different chemicals found in the smoke emitted from cooking meat on a charcoal grill. PAHs are classified as carcinogens and have been linked to an increased risk of lung and bladder cancer .
- HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines): HCAs are carcinogenic chemicals produced when muscle meats (i.e. beef, pork, chicken, fish) are fired up on the grill . They’re formed when amino acids (found in protein) and creatine (found in muscle) react at temps above 300 degrees F. Studies have found a connection between HCAs and prostate, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer in adults .
Avoid overcooking meat and using moderation with dietary choices, rather than cutting cooked meat out of diets altogether.