Beer-marinated meat could help fight cancer cells, finds report

Researchers at the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry have identified that beer could help reduce chemicals that have been linked to colorectal cancer found in meat cooked at high temperatures.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures. They are also found in cigarette smoke and car exhausts, which have proven to cause cancer in laboratory animals, although it is unclear whether this is true with humans.

Researcher Isabel Ferreira and colleagues grilled samples of pork in different marinades for four hours and tested them for levels of PAH. Compared with Pilsner beer and non-alcoholic Pilsner beer, the report found that black beer had the strongest effect on the levels of PAH, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with un-marinated pork.

“Un-marinated samples cooked in similar conditions provided reference heterocyclic aromatic amines (Has) levels. Marinating with beer or with red wine resulted in decreased levels of Has,” said the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Levels of PAH differed between meats and their cooking process, Ferreira explained: “These compounds are usually found in high concentrations in smoked or charcoal grilled meat due to smoke, and are very well known due their association to lung cancer and smoking, especially Benzoapyren. However PAHs, especially the eight PAHs evaluated in the present study, also represent a priority group in the assessment of the risk of long-term adverse effects following dietary intake, and the association with colorectal cancer is known.”

Beer, wine and tea marinades have proven to reduce some potential carcinogen in cooked meat, but this is the first research linking beer to reduced PAH levels. “In addition, beer marinade was the most adequate for maintaining the usual overall appearance and quality of the pan-fried steaks,” the report concluded.

European Union Commission Regulation has established the most suitable indicators for the occurrence and carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food and attributed maximum levels for these compounds in foods.

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