IF you’re planning a BBQ over the Bank Holiday weekend, be warned.
The very British past-time could leave you at greater risk of cancer, according to experts.
Getty – Contributor Barbecuing could increase your risk at cancer, experts have warned
And it’s not just because of the food you eat.
The smoke billowing from your grill does smell great, but it can seep into your skin taking cancer-causing chemicals with it, scientists at the University of North Carolina discovered.
Barbecuing produces cancer-causing chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Studies have linked the carcinogens to respiratory disease and DNA mutations.
Getty – Contributor Cancer-causing chemicals called PAHs are produced when you barbecue – and you can be exposed by eating the food and the smoke getting on your skin
The scientists found eating barbecued food is the most common way for people to be exposed to PAHs.
But they were surprised to find the next most common way for the chemicals to get into the body was leeching through the skin.
The team divided volunteers into groups at an outdoor barbecue, varying their exposure to the food and smoke.
They then collected urine samples, to examine.
Getty – Contributor Studies have linked PAHs to various cancers, including bowel, prostate, breast and liver cancers
The authors of the study said: “As expected, diet accounted for the largest amount of PAH exposure.
“However, the skin was the second highest exposure route, followed by inhalation.”
Dr Eddy Zeng and his team believe oils in barbecue fumes make it easier for PAHs to get into the body, via the skin.
And they warned wearing more clothes isn’t enough protection.
While clothes were found to reduce skin exposure to PAHs in the short term, once clothes are saturated in barbecue smoke the skin can absorb “considerable” amounts of PAHs from the clothes.
(PAHs) have been found to be mutagenic – that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer
National Cancer Institute
The team said washing your clothes as soon as you finish barbecuing can help to reduce exposure.
The new findings are published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Another way PAHs are formed in during the actual barbecuing process.
They’re formed when muscle in meat is cooked at very high temperatures, according to the National Cancer Institute in the US.
Experts there warn PAHs “have been found to be mutagenic – that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer”.
The cancer-causing chemicals are most likely to form when food is cooked on an open flame, or pan fried to temperatures of 148C.