Let’s break down what exactly is the cause for concern when it comes to grilling. We all know those black char marks that result from throwing something on the grill. Well, unfortunately, that black char is heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which develop when high temperatures meet muscle meat. If that isn’t enough to be concerned about, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form when organic matter gets burned – so when that fat drips off the steak into the hot grill, the carbons in the fat combust, producing hydrocarbons that then get carried up into the smoke and coat the meat. This creates the potential cancer-causing chemicals.
Before you lock up your grill and banish it to the great beyond, health professionals say that like many things in life, quantity matters. That means the dose of carcinogens is a big factor (for example, the longer meat cooks, the more carcinogens are able to coat it). And, keep in mind that a diet high in red and processed meat is also linked to causing cancer - no matter how it is cooked. The key takeaway here is everything in moderation. (1)