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Recent research suggests that there may be a link between grilling foods and cancer. Fortunately, this doesn't mean you have to give up grilling altogether. There are some safety measures you can take, however, which will greatly reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals created during the grilling process.

One of every two men and one of every three women in the world will develop cancer in their lifetime. As the second leading cause of death in the United States, cancer figures are staggering.

There are two main health concerns with regards to grilling. First, is the formation of carcinogens or cancer causing agents. When grilling chicken, beef, pork and fish, chemicals known as "heterocyclic amines" are produced. As you ingest food, these chemicals enter your body and play a significant role in the development of cancer. Second, grilling meat products also produces mutagens, which have the potential to also statistically increase your odds of cancer development.


CLEAN your grill thoroughly between uses. Be sure to remove any charred food debris.

COOK fish in foil packets. This will help retain natural flavors and also protect your catch from smoke and fire. This works especially well with fatty fish.

The LESS TIME your food spends on a high heat grill, the safer you will be. When cooking thick or fatty meats, try partially cooking them indoors in a microwave first. Precooking meat on high for 90 seconds before grilling can significantly reduce the amount of carcinogens you will be exposed to.

TRIM the excess fat off red meats before grilling. When fat drippings hit the coals, cancer causing substances, such as benzopyrene, are produced. You can keep a squirt bottle of water near the grill to stop "flare ups."

MARINATE away from the grill. Applying marinades to meat while cooking often causes a sudden burst of flames, especially when using oil marinades. When you marinade, remove meat from grill and brush. Try basting without oil. Lowfat salad dressings and barbecue sauces don't pose the same risk as other marinades.

USE liquid smoke, instead of trying to smoke red meats.

PLACING a metal pan or heavy duty aluminum foil sheet directly on the center of the bed of coals will keep your food from charring, limit the amount of smoke your food is subjected to and greatly reduce your exposure to chemicals.

NEVER CHAR foods. You can avoid accidental charring by cooking over a moderate or low fire.

DON'T COOK directly over the fire. Moving your meat to the outsides of the grill will prevent them from coming in contact with large amounts of smoke.

CHICKEN should be grilled with the skin on. When it comes time to eat, remove the skin and discard. Chicken is actually safer than beef, as you can protect yourself through it's natural protective layer of skin.

NEVER cook frozen meat on a grill. This will only cause the outside of the meat to char and the inside to remain underdone. If using frozen meat, defrost in a refrigerator or microwave before cooking.

SERVE lots of vegetables with your meal. Science has shown us that vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and other rich in vitamins A, C and fiber contain proven anticarcinogens.

RAISE the level of the grill, whenever possible, to position the food farther away from the heat source. The less high heat your meat is exposed to, the better.


VERTICAL grills provide you with the most protection against cancer causing agents. If you grill frequently, the investment is worth it.

DISPOSABLE grills rate poorest when it comes to safety. If you must grill using this method, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the coals before adding meat.


Grilling meats is not entirely unhealthy. Any type of grilling method makes food taste better, kills disease-causing organisms, destroys toxins and increases digestibility.

Grilled vegetables or soy based products does not produce the same chemical causing agents that meat does.