03/27/2014 11:40 EDT | Updated 03/27/2014 11:59 EDT

Dark Beer May Reduce Carcinogens In Grilled Meats, Study Finds

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Researchers have long been in search of ingredients that can lessen the carcinogens created when meat is grilled. Several studies have cited assorted vegetables and herbs as helpful in reducing the formation of these carcinogens, with the latest examining a different option: beer.

Isabel M. P. L. V. O. Ferreira of the Universidade do Porto and colleagues note the potential link between grilled meats and colorectal cancer, as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) form when high temperatures are used to grill meat. These hydrocarbons are also found in car exhaust and cigarette smoke. While there's a connection between these substances and cancer in laboratory animals, it is still unclear if this connection exists in humans.

Beer, wine and tea marinades had all been shown to reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different types of beer might affect results.

For their study, researchers grilled samples of pork on a charcoal grill for four hours, using marinades made with Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer and black beer ale. All meats were cooked until "well done." Results showed black beer was the most powerful, as it reduced levels of eight major PAHs by over 50 percent compared to non-marinated pork.

"Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy," say the researchers.

Scientists have long been in search of foods that can reduce levels of PAHs in grilled meats. A 2010 study looked at rosmarinic acid, found in rosemary, and found it to be very effective in reducing carcinogens. Another study looked at the effects of mixed marinades, such as those made with garlic, onions and rosemary, while a third study found eating broccoli with grilled meats helps cleanse the body of related carcinogens.

The new study on beer marinades was published in ACS's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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