Marinating 'may cut cancer risk'
Marinating a steak in red wine or beer can cut down the number of
cancer-causing agents produced when it is fried or grilled, research
Meat cooked in this way contains relatively high levels of cancer-causing
compounds called heterocyclic amines (HAs).
However, Portuguese researchers found HA levels in steak were lower if it was
steeped in alcohol before cooking.
Details of the research are highlighted in New Scientist magazine.
However, experts said the effect on health was likely to be minimal.
The high temperatures associated with frying and grilling convert the
natural sugars and amino acids found in meat into HAs.
Previous research has shown that an olive oil, lemon juice and garlic marinade
cut HA levels in chicken by as much as 90%.
The latest research, by a team at the University of Porto and published
in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, focused on the
effect of an alcohol marinade.
They found six hours of marinating in beer or red wine
cut levels of two types of HA by up to 90% compared with unmarinated
Beer was more efficient at reducing levels of a third
type of HA, cutting levels significantly in four hours, while wine took
six hours to achieve a similar effect.
The researchers believe the key could be water-retaining sugars found in beer
These sugars - which are more abundant in beer than wine - may block
the movement of water-soluble molecules within the steak to the
surface, where high heat converts them into HAs.
The researchers also found that tasters preferred the smell, taste and
appearance of beer-marinated steak.
Scientists have found 17 different HAs resulting from the high temperature
cooking of meat.
One study showed a strong link between stomach cancer and consumption of cooked
People who preferred their beef medium-well or well done were more than
three times more likely to suffer stomach cancer as those who ate rare
or medium-rare beef.
Other research has suggested an association between
eating fried, grilled or barbecued meats and an increased risk of
bowel, pancreatic and breast cancer.
Dr Kat Arney, senior science information officer at
Cancer Research UK, said: "We know that regularly eating large amounts
of red or processed meat increases your cancer risk.
"It may seem appetising to marinate steak in beer or
wine, but this will have a minimal impact on the effect of the meat on
your cancer risk and the best way to reduce your risk of cancer from
eating red and processed meat is to eat less of it overall.
"Cancer Research UK recommends that a healthy diet
should include plenty of fibre, fruit and vegetables and limited
amounts of red meat and alcohol."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/12/30 17:59:24 GMT
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