Using a Charcoal grill to flame up a few hamburgers, hotdogs, and T-bones in the backyard is one of the best things about summer. What’s a fourth of July without a Barbeque around the pool in the backyard?
From the past, we have learned that a certain chemical compound called Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), a byproduct of burning charcoal, coal, wood, and other fossil fuels is the main toxin in charcoal grilled meats and smoked fish. Scientists have discovered that it’s highly carcinogenic, causing many forms of cancers. When high fat meats are cooked by these fuel sources at high temperatures, PAH is produced and attaches to the food we ingest. Liver tends to be the first place where damage occurs because it functions as a toxin filtering organ.
Recently, more evidence suggests that charcoal grilled meats are particularly harmful to our liver. A study written by Yousif Abd El-Aziz Elhassaneen, Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Minoufiya University, Shebin El-Kom, Egypt; published in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences by Scientific Research showed the effects of consuming charcoal broiled meats. 29 young and healthy male participants were observed over a period of 3 months. For the second month, they consumed 2 charcoal broiled hamburgers for lunch every day. The scientists measured their body state consistently over the 3 months period. From the blood analysis of the participants, it showed heavy oxidative stress to the liver since the level of anti-oxidants decreased to minimum levels. The liver cells which contain special enzymes also had increased enzyme activity, which indicates damage to these cells similar to the effects of certain liver diseases such as hepatitis C.
With these results in mind, when the next summer rolls around, maybe it’s best that we all contain our enthusiasm a little for backyard barbeques and not go charcoal crazy on our red meats. Personally, I couldn’t give up a grilled burger and steak completely, but maybe not follow the lifestyle of the participants who ate it on a daily basis.