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Outdoor Grilling Tips: How to Cut the Cancer Risk From Your Meat

Low and slow is the way to go

En español | Pity the poor backyard cook planning a big summer cookout.

Between the warnings about an increased cancer risk from grilled meat and the newest study linking colorectal cancer to diets high in beef and hot dogs, it's a wonder we all haven't scrapped our barbecues.

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Delicious steak - healthy grilling

Slow cook your meat on the grill to prevent cancer. — Photo by Richard Brocken/Redux

But don't despair. There are ways to reduce your cancer risk and still enjoy the pleasure of a grilled meal this summer.

The solution lies both in what you cook and how you cook it, says dietitian Alice Bender, a spokeswoman for the American Institute for Cancer Research.

If you are going to grill, beware of charring or burning whatever kind of meat you choose. It's not only bad for the meat, it's bad for your health, say the cancer prevention experts at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

High heat causes carcinogenic substances to form in meat, says Vicki Piper, a senior clinical dietitian at Anderson. "Low and slow is the way to go."

To keep your cookout healthy as well as happy, try these simple tips:

1. Use a marinade.

Marinating meat for even 30 minutes has a strong protective effect against cancer-causing compounds, possibly because the liquid helps prevent burning. Use vinegar or lemon juice in the marinade and herbs like rosemary, tarragon and sage for best effect.

2. Precook food.

Cook meat, poultry or fish for a couple minutes in the microwave, then finish them on the grill. Less grill time means less exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

3. Avoid flare-ups.

Trim excess fat so it doesn't drip and cause smoke and flare-ups that can singe or char the meat. Also — clean the grill before using to keep charred bits from sticking to your food.

Next: Why you may want to keep hot dogs off the grill. >>

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