Good News: Cooking Meat on Low Heat May Reduce Cancer Risk

Crispy is overrated.
Crispy is overrated. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Brave scientists continue to ask depressing questions about the link between meat and cancer (grilled meat, specifically), and thankfully, not everything they’re finding is bad news. In the newest issue of Cancer, researchers present a study that provides a half-glass-full view that their data also offers one possible way to lower — though not eliminate — the risk of growing tumors from a daily bacon habit: Cook it on lower heat. “The lower-risk methods are baking and broiling,” explains co-author Stephanie Melkonian. Other smart plays are sous-viding (not exactly an option for most home chefs, regardless of what Nathan Myhrvold contends, but okay), or using a slow cooker.

Cooking meat on high heat, especially via an open flame, makes it taste great, but research shows it also burns in a bunch of chemical compounds that could be carcinogenic. Researchers in this study found that one particular compound (a heterocyclic amine called MelQx caused by grilling, barbecuing, and pan-frying at high temperatures) is associated with an almost-two-fold increase in risk for kidney cancer. More definitive research is necessary, they admit, but it’s probably fair to guess they and their families have cut back on flame-grilled steak for now.

And Searzalling it is definitely out of the question:


Cooking at Low Heat May Reduce Meat’s Cancer Risk