Marinated meat cuts cancer risk

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Marinating chicken in olive oil, lemon and garlic has been suggested as a recipe for preventing cancer. Coating chicken pieces in the marinade before grilling are said to reduce the production of cancer-promoting chemicals in the meat.

Grilling or frying beef and chicken is known to convert harmless compounds in the muscle tissue into heterocyclic amines, which promote the formation of tumours. The researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California wanted to test a theory that carcinogen production might be affected by preparation methods, they write in New Scientist.

They took medallions of chicken breast and marinated half in a mixture of olive oil, brown sugar, cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and mustard. After being cooked for 20 minutes, the marinated meat contained only a tenth of the heterocyclic amines found in the unmarinated meat. But if the meat was overcooked for a further 20 minutes, another type of heterocyclic amine was 10 times more abundant in the marinated samples.