heterocyclic amines

  1. Burned meat ups cancer risk

    You won't find a bigger booster of meat than me -- but there's one type even I won't touch, and that's the overcooked hunks of charcoal that pass for “well done.”

    Charred meats will boost your levels of homocysteine, the inflammation marker linked to heart disease and other problems -- and the risks don't end there: Burnt dinner offerings can almost double your risk of pancreatic cancer.

    Each time you bring your steak to the brink of cremation, you create something worse than a dense hockey puck devoid of all flavor and texture. You create a series of dangerous mutagens such as heterocyclic amines and bezo(a)pyrene.

    We already know these mutagens can lead to any number of cancers -- but a new 10-year study finds that high levels of them will boost your odds of pancreatic cancer by 86 percent.

    And when you consider that the five-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is just 5 percent, that's a risk you don't want to take.

    But let's not throw all the heat on meat here -- because even charred beyond all recognition, it's not the worst thing on the menu.

    Starchy foods are far more common than well-done meats -- most people eat starch with every single meal -- and research going back years confirms that these empty carbohydrates can also boost your pancreatic cancer risk.

    You can always cook your meat a little less... but there's absolutely nothing you can do to foods like taters, bread and rice that'll make them any better for you. So keep the steak on the menu -- just be sure to eat it rare.

  2. More dangers from overcooked meat

    I've said for years that foods need to be eaten as close to raw as possible if you want to get the maximum amount of nutrients. The "closer to raw" rule doesn't just apply to vegetables -- but to meat and eggs as well.

    But the key difference between overcooked veggies and overcooked meats is that over-doing veggies makes them flavorless and nutritionally bereft, while overcooking meat makes it flavorless... and dangerous. The possible carcinogenic effects of overcooking meat and eggs are fairly well documented.

    Cooking eggs and meat at high temperatures produces a chemical compound called PhIP, which many believe can cause DNA changes, or can metabolize harmless bodily enzymes into carcinogens -- especially those that cause breast cancer.

    Now, a new report by researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center claims that regular consumption of well-done, charred meats could boost the risk of pancreatic cancer by a frightening 60 percent.

    This new research indicated that overcooking also created heterocyclic amines (H.A.s), which contribute to increased risk of pancreatic cancer, an especially lethal cancer. H.A.s are generated by the high-temperature immolation of amino acids.

    The researchers suggested maintaining low heat while grilling, frying or barbecuing in order to cut down on "excess burning or charring of the meat." Doing so will help cut down on the cancer risk, since the burned portions have the highest HA concentrations.

    This is something you should keep in mind before you fire up the backyard barbeque. But by all means, don't let it stop you from eating meat. You just need to think twice about how long you cook it.

  3. More dangers from overcooked meat

    I've said for years that foods need to be eaten as close to raw as possible if you want to get the maximum amount of nutrients. The "closer to raw" rule doesn't just apply to vegetables — but to meat and eggs as well.

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