It has been known that eating grilled meat can increase the risk of cancer. However, according to a new research, just standing near a grill makes you a candidate for the chronic disease. This study, which was published in Environmental Science & Technology, revealed that the risk factor is not because of the smoke inhaled but due to the absorption of harmful chemicals through the skin.
When you cook meat and other foods in high temperature, toxic chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) could be released. PAHs have been found to cause genetic mutations that can lead to skin, lung, and bladder cancer. Particularly when meat, which is made up of fat and muscle tissues, interacts with heat, sugars, amino acids, and other components react and dip onto hot coals below which is then converted to PAHs. As these PAHs gets enveloped by the smoke, it is carried back upward to the food on the grill and bind to the surface of the food, which means that most of the toxins from grilled food enter the body when eaten.
The researchers from China gathered volunteers and made them stand at different distances from a grill. Some of the food cooked on it were eaten by the study participants. The urine samples of each participant were assessed by the researchers after the meat was cooked.
According to the results, the most amounts of PAHs in the body were found at those people who ate the grilled food, while surprisingly, skin contact made a difference in the extent of their carcinogen exposure. Apart from the PAHs, heated fat is converted into oil, which then turns into its gas form and goes with the smoke. Researchers found that the oil content of the smoke helps the skin to soak in the cancer-causing chemicals.
Moreover, it was also revealed that clothing can’t fully protect the skin against smoke. Once clothes become smokey, wearing them continuously enables PAHs to soak into the skin more, thereby further increasing a person’s risk of cancer. This brought the researchers into a conclusion that people exposed to grilling should cover up as much as they can and immediately change their clothing.
Your Risk of High Blood Pressure Can Also Be Increased When You Eat Grilled Meat
Aside from increasing cancer risk, cooking meat at high temperatures such as barbecuing, grilling, roasting, and broiling also raises the risk of high blood pressure, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association (AHA) meeting.
This study involved a total of 103,881 participants, both men, and women, from the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. At the beginning of the study, they were all free from high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
After 12 to 16 years, researchers found that 37,123 participants developed high blood pressure. According to the results, those people who ate grilled, roasted, or broiled meat every other day, or 15 times every month, had 17% higher risk of developing high blood pressure as compared to those who ate foods cooked at high temperatures less than four times a month. In addition to this, people who opt for a well-done food had a 15% higher risk of developing high blood pressure than those who preferred rarer meats.
Gang Liu, the lead author of the study explained that:
“Our findings imply that avoiding the use of open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods may help reduce hypertension risk among individuals who consume red meat, chicken or fish regularly.”