Marinating Steak in Beer Could Reduce Risk of Cancer

What’s better that barbecue and brew? With this recent study, it could even get better. According to an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a group of European scientists found that marinating meat in beer will reduce the amount of a cancer-causing substance that forms when meat is exposed to smoke and charring when cooked at high temperature in a frying pan or an open flame.

That cancer-causing substance is called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons or PAH for short. Previous research found that high consumption PAH from well-done or barbecued meats is associated with increased risk to cancer,particularly colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Read the government fact sheet.

Potential Good News

According to an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a group of European scientists discovered that marinating meat in beer will reduce the amount of PAH. That’s good news for backyard barbecuing, particularly for those that love beer along with that scrumptious slab of charred meat.

The researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill. The black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than 50% compared with un-marinated pork.

“Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” say the researchers. This is interesting, even a non-alcoholic pilsner reduced the PAHs by 25 percent while regular ilsner performed the worst at 13 percent.

Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.

Recipe For Beer Teriyaki Steak Marinade


Press Release dated March 26, 2014:

The smells of summer — the sweet fragrance of newly opened flowers, the scent of freshly cut grass and the aroma of meats cooking on the backyard grill — will soon be upon us. Now, researchers are reporting that the very same beer that many people enjoy at backyard barbeques could, when used as a marinade, help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira and colleagues explain that past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it’s uncertain if that’s true for people. Nevertheless, the 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. Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.

The researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill. Black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with unmarinated pork. “Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” say the researchers.

The authors acknowledge funding from Universidade do Porto.

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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society