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February 2024
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Cooking Up Some Cancer

Fumes from Gas Stoves Considered Cancerous by Researchers

Chefs be warned: Your stove may affect your cancer risk.

The next time you’re at a steakhouse, instead of telling your waiter how you’d like your steak done, you may want to ask how they cook their beef in the first place.  Because if chefs are pan-frying steaks with a gas burner, they could be putting themselves—and you—at risk for cancer.

According to a new study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, meat that’s cooked over gas burners give off fumes that have been deemed “probably carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Researchers wanted to discover this for themselves, so they went about mimicking the conditions typically found in a steakhouse kitchen, using both gas burners and electric burners to cook their meat.  They then placed several 14-ounce slabs of beef into margarine-lined frying pans, cooking them for about 15 minutes each on a high heat.

Now, whenever we cook anything, the combination of oil and heat used in the cooking process gives off fumes that waft throughout our home.  These are great smells, but some of the particles within those fumes can be harmful when breathed in in excess.

And that’s what researchers are concerned about.  Because after they measured the air quality and what particles were found in the fumes that the hot stove was giving off, they found a higher concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons when the gas ovens were stoked.  What’s more, the sizes of the particles were smaller.  And when it comes to the particles we breathe in, size does matter—the smaller they are, the more easily the lungs absorb them.

While the researchers note that the PAH level was well below the level considered safe to breathe in, that’s of little consolation to chefs, waiters, and servers who are around these kinds of fumes 8 to 12 hours a day.  True, there haven’t been any broad based studies done on just how adverse PAHs are to our health, but researchers believe that years of regular exposure to these particles can lead to cancer, reproductive problems and organ damage (lungs, liver, skin and kidneys).

And those negative health effects aren’t solely among PAHs.  The researchers detected other particles lurking in fumes, and they have reason to believe they could be every bit as devastating to our health as PAHs can be.

The takeaway from this study is to limit your exposure to these kinds of fumes as much as possible.  Of course, we’re all going to be around PAHs because we’re all going to eat cooked food now and again.  But as is the common theme in the natural health world, raw foods are almost always better than cooked foods from a nutritional standpoint.

It goes without saying that you should never eat undercooked beef, but as a general rule, you shouldn’t be eating a whole lot of meat in the first place.  When you do, though, you’re better off eating meat cooked over an electric burner than a gas burner.


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