Victoria Day long weekend is just a few short hours away, so it’s time we grill you on safe BBQ’ing!

Some research show that cooking meat at high temperatures can produce harmful carcinogens that increase your colorectal cancer risk. From one of our former posts on the matter:

When high-protein, high-fat foods like meat are cooked to the point of charring, the large quantities of creatine in the meat’s muscle cells chemically bond with the amino acids of the protein to form heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which have the ability to bond to DNA and cause genetic mutations that can trigger the growth of cancer.  Further, the meat’s fat may oxidize, a process that produces compounds like malondialdehyde, which have similar abilities in terms of genetic mutations. Studies do conclude that high consumption of HCAs can be found in colorectal cancer patients.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce the harm while still enjoying the high-heat cooking of BBQ season:

  • Overall, base your diet around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Eat meat in small quantities, grilled or otherwise
  • Cook “low and slow”. Even if two pieces of meat  are cooked to the same level, the piece cooked over a lower heat and longer period will contain fewer carcinogenic compounds
  • Marinate your meat. This is probably the tastiest tip on the list!  Research shows that the use of herbs and spices may inhibit the formation of carcinogenic compounds
  • Limit the amount of fat that is allowed to drip onto the grill. Achieve this by using tongs rather than a fork to manipulate the meat, as piercing will cause fat to run out
  • Consider lining your barbecue with tinfoil. Be sure to poke some holes so that smoke can escape. When the fat drips, it will avoid touching the hot coals, and will reduce the chances of your meat charring
  • Grill up those veggies! Many vegetables can play a delicious role in your afternoon barbecue- try portobello mushrooms, sweet peppers, zuchinni, eggplant and asparagus

And now, what about the beer? A frosty brew may seem like the perfect accompaniment to your Victoria Day spread, but please practice moderation!  Beside reducing your risk of impromptu karaoke, some evidence suggests that limiting your alcohol consumption may markedly reduce your colorectal cancer risk.