Friday, February 23, 2007

Is Barbecued Meat Bad for You?

Yes, barbecued meat can be bad for you, especially if it is full of black burnt pieces of meat, also in overly well-done meats, or charcoal. Chemicals in meat, that are often harmful in themselves, are made more reactive when superheated. Burnt pieces of meat can stay in our digestive systems for a long time, subjecting us to these often cancer-causing chemicals.

Different for ms of the blood enzyme Cytochrome 450 are activated, and can cause over- or underproduction of various chemicals, sometimes leading to cancer. Many possible cancer-causing molecules are changed to forms that can easily intercalate or combine with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and can cause one of the two mutations need to form cancer, if they are not corrected by certain DNA enzymes. These enzymes already work every day to correct naturally-occurring mutations. Excessive induction of Cytochrome P450 can lead to porphyria, characterized by excessive accumulation of intermediates in the heme biosynthetic pathway. If people are taking medication, it can interact with these compounds in a harmful way.

Charcoal-broiled meat is a source of some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that intercalate with DNA, sometimes leading to cancer, along with other factors. Some polycyclic hydrocarbons induce some cytochrome enzymes.

Information for the above was obtained from: Curtis D. Klaassen, Mary O. Amdur and John Doull, eds. 1996. Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons. Fifth Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 151 and 159.

Heterocyclic amines are other possible cancer-causing molecules found in cooked meats. Knize, MG, Dolbeare FA, Cunningham PL, and Felton JS. Princess Takamatsu Symp.1995;23:30-8).

Carcinogens are often more active when heated to the high temperatures of barbecuing. A 1999 study found that what sauce you cook with affects carcinogens, and found that barbecue sauce can increase amounts of harmful chemicals in barbecued meat. Beef steaks marinated with teriyaki sauce had 45% and 67% lower pyridine (PhIP) level at 10 minutes and 15 minutes of cooking time, and 44% and 60% lower quinoxaline (MeIQx) levels at 10 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively, than unmarinated meat. Turmeric-garlic sauce –cooked meats showed lower levels of PhIP and MeIQx. Marinating with barbecue sauce caused a 2.9- and 1.9-fold increase in PhIP and a 4- and 2.9-fold increase in MeIQx at 10 and 15 minutes, respectively.

The above information was taken from: Mottier P, Parisod V, Turesky RJ. Quantitative determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in barbecued meat sausages by gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Apr;48(4):1160-6.

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