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Simple precautions during grilling may reduce cancer risk

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Published on May 19, 2009

Grillers, take your marks!

Memorial Day weekend is considered by many to be the official start of the summer grilling season.

But recent research linking grilled meat and pancreatic cancer could drop the caution flag on some folks summer grilling.

Experts say one reason for this cancer link is that the muscle proteins in beef, pork, chicken, even fish, can generate a cancer-causing reaction when they meet a hot grill.

Denise Snyder, Duke nutrition researcher...

All of these things are muscle proteins, and when we apply those high internal temperatures, it causes the proteins to break down and we actually can create a cancer forming substance, and that substance can cause some damage to our DNA and our genetic material. And that can start that cancer development process.

While they dont expect picnickers to avoid grilling meats altogether, Duke nutritionists say there are simple steps grillers can take to lessen their exposure:

*Flip meats often, about once every minute
*Use thinner cuts of meat. These cook faster, equaling less time on the grill
*Reduce grilling time by first partially cooking meats in the microwave
*Marinating meats first can reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances on your meat
*Lining your grill with foil with holes poked in it will allow juice to drip through, while lessening smoke flare-ups that can contain cancer-causing substances

Perhaps most importantly, experts warn against blackening meat on the grill.

You want to not have the chargrilled, blackened, crispy parts from the meats so that youre not getting exposure to those cancer-causing substances. And if you do happen to char a little of something, make sure to cut it off!

Nutritionists add that barbecue lovers should minimize their consumption of processed meats like hot dogs and sausages. These contain nitrates, chemicals that have also been shown to up cancer risk. At the Duke University Medical Center, I'm Mike Garrison

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