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Grilling Tips for Reducing Colon Cancer Risk

Reduce Colon Cancer Risk With These Grilling Tips

Backyard grilling is a favorite American pastime enjoyed by families all across the nation. Unfortunately, colon cancer is also a common occurrence, afflicting individuals all across the United States, and it is definitely far from welcome and enjoyable. Did you know that several research studies have shown that colon cancer risk factors can be linked to backyard grilling, and that you can reduce colon cancer risk by ensuring that you follow a few simple rules before enjoying your barbecue feast?

How you grill is as important as what you grill. The type of food, specifically processed meats such as sausage, and an abundance of red meat, can increase your risks of colon cancer. Additionally, the smoke and chemical compounds that can be absorbed by meat during grilling are also colon cancer risk factors. Knowing this information and making a few alterations can make a big difference in your future health, as well as the health of anyone else you may be grilling food for.


Reduce Colon Cancer Risk: Grill Safely

In a news release put forth by the American Institute for Cancer Research, registered dietician Alice Bender stated that, “…diets high in red and processed meat increase risk for colon cancer,” and, “…grilling meat — red or white — forms potent cancer-causing substances.”

It’s understandable that most individuals aren’t simply going to stop grilling their food, so the focus on how to reduce colon cancer risk is based on “how” best to grill food. You might also be surprised to discover that these important tips can also serve to make grilled food more flavorful, as well as healthy.

Firstly, if you must eat red meats and processed foods, try to limit your intake as much as possible. But if you are looking for a healthier alternative, it can be relatively easy to add intense flavor to poultry, fish, and vegetables with herbs and spices, or healthy, yet delicious, sauces.

Additionally, marinating foods before grilling them also helps to reduce the formation of HCAs, which is a substance that can cause cancer and that develops when cooking foods over a high heat setting. Flavorful marinades that are effective utilize simple ingredients, such as a mixture of lemon juice, wine, vinegar, or oil with various herbs or spices.

Other risk factors for colon cancer that develop when grilling are known as PAHs, (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). These substances develop on meat during grilling, due to an abundance of smoke. You can effectively reduce the development of PAHs by either partially cooking your food first before placing it on the grill, or by ensuring that the grill has been sufficiently preheated before placing food on it.

Cooking food over a low flame rather than high flames also serves to reduce the formation of both HCAs and PAHs. Try not to char your meat, as it’s the charred, blackened bits that contain the highest concentration of HCAs and PAHs. Indirect heat is also recommended, as this not only serves to better cook the meat more evenly, with less chance of overcooking, but also serves to keep the meat from sitting directly on top of the smoke-producing coals.

You can also cut colon cancer risk factors by cooking more vegetables on the grill. Most vegetables are high in compounds that reduce the risks of cancer, and will not allow the development of HCAs and PAHs, even if they char.


Other Important Grilling Tips

Be sure that your grill is properly cleaned so that you are not re-grilling charred bits of food that may stick to new food and be ingested.

Cut off any excessive fatty bits from meat, which will help to reduce flare ups. You might also consider grilling juicy bits of meat on tin foil or in pans so that less smoke is absorbed, and dripping juices don’t cause the flames to flare up, increasing the chances of charring your meat.

Lastly, using a propane grill or natural gas grill allows for a lesser amount of harmful carcinogens (although it is not, by any means, completely safe).

 “This article reflects the opinions of the author and those of any of the source articles and should not be misconstrued as medical advice.  None of this information is evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.”


Source articles:

  1. Health Editor. (2013, May 13). Grilling Tips to Cut Colon Cancer Risk. Retrieved from Accessed May 21. 2013.
  2. Worth, T. (2010, July 1). How to Make Grilling Safer. Retrieved from,,20429898,00.html. Accessed May 21, 2013.


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