To Reduce the Cancer Risk from Eating Meat, Just Add Beer

To Reduce the Cancer Risk from Eating Meat, Just Add Beer

The revealing WHO report this week on the effects of red meat causing cancer has taken over food news, with bacon and breakfast enthusiasts scrambling for a solution. A group of researchers led by Isabel Ferreira of the University of Porto, in Portugal, think they’ve found a way around the problem.

They suggest you should add beer.

This match made in heaven is a result of serious experimentation, Dr. Ferreira explained in a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which damage DNA and increases the eater’s chances of developing colon cancer, aren’t allowed to form via specific antioxidants. Beer is rich in these, thanks to melanoidins, which form when barley is roasted.

beer2Dr. Ferreira used beer marinades on grilling steaks to taste test her hypothesis. One of their marinades was based on Pilsner, a pale lager. A second was based on a black beer, which have more melanoidins than light beers. If she was correct, the steaks steeped in the black-beer marinade would form fewer PAHs than those steeped in the light-beer marinade, showing the effectiveness of beer in countering colon cancer.

And she was right. When cooked, unmarinated steaks had an average of 21 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of PAHs per gram of grilled meat. The ones in Pilsner averaged 18 nanograms, and the steaks marinated in black beer averaged only 10 nanograms.

So if you still need to keep red meat a part of your diet – especially if you’re a barbecue fan – consider adding some ale to your meal.

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