SUPERBUGS: Bacteria or Cancer
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SUPERBUGS: Bacteria or Cancer
In May 2005, a major review of these cooked-meat carcinogens was published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy. When skeletal muscles are heated beyond a certain temperature--be it moist heat (boiling) or dry heat (broiling, frying, grilling)--the muscle creatine combines with blood sugars and amino acids to create heterocyclic amine carcinogens. Of all the meats tested, cooked chicken breast formed the highest levels of these toxins.
Although there are cooking methods that result in lower carcinogen concentrations (marinating followed by a microwaving pretreatment and pouring off of the "juices," followed by relatively low temperature frying with frequent flipping), there does not seem to be a way to cook meat to an internal temperature necessary to kill off bacteria without producing at least some carcinogenic compounds. And even low doses have been shown to cause human DNA mutations which could lead to cancer.
Human studies suggest that eating well-done meat can raise the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer by more than 400%. The researchers conclude, "There is a general consensus that human exposure to potent genotoxic heterocyclic amine carcinogens produced in meat during cooking is widespread." Meat consumers are then faced with a dilemma, choosing between the risks of food poisoning or cancer.
 Knize MG and JS Felton. "Formation and Human Risk of Carcinogenic Heterocyclic Amines Formed from Natural Precursors in Meat." Nutrition Reviews 63(2005):158-65.
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