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 Report Names Five Worst Foods to Grill: Chicken Tops the List with the Most Cancer-Causing Chemicals 
by Healthy News - 8/24/2005
Veggie Burgers Better Choice for Labor Day Grilling

WASHINGTON—Grilled chicken contains high levels of cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCAs), putting this commonly barbecued item at the top of the five worst foods to grill, according to a new analysis by nutrition scientists with The Cancer Project. HCAs are potent carcinogens produced during cooking from the creatine, amino acids, and sugars found naturally in chicken and other meats. In January 2005, the federal government added HCAs to its list of known carcinogens.

Grilled chicken contains the highest HCA concentration, with alarmingly high levels also found in flame-cooked steak, salmon, and hamburger. The Cancer Project report focuses on HCAs, but many grilled meats, including hotdogs, contain other carcinogens such as nitrates. Safer alternatives include veggie burgers and veggie brochettes, which contain no HCAs or negligible amounts, even when cooked over the hottest flames.

“The riskiest aspect of chicken is not grease or salmonella,” says Cancer Project managing director Jennifer Reilly, R.D. “Few people are aware that chicken is the single biggest contributor of carcinogenic HCAs in the American diet.” In addition to high HCA levels, chicken contains about the same amount of cholesterol as beef and is also typically high in fat. Even when the skin is removed, dark meat is thrown away, and a non-fat cooking method is used, chicken still derives 23 percent of its calories from fat.

The Five Worst Foods to Grill (by HCA levels)

Food HCAs ng/100g*
Chicken breast, skinless, boneless, grilled, well done 14,300 ng/100g
Steak, grilled, well done 810 ng/100g
Pork, barbecued 470 ng/100g
Salmon, grilled with skin 166 ng/100g
Hamburger, grilled, well done 130 ng/100g
*100g portion equals about 3.5 ounces grilled

For a copy of The Cancer Project’s “The Five Worst Foods to Grill” report or an interview with Ms. Reilly, please contact Susanne Forte, 202-686-2210, ext. 339, or

The Cancer Project is a nonprofit organization of physicians, researchers, and nutritionists working together to educate the public about the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer prevention and survival. An affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, The Cancer Project offers free cooking and nutrition classes in more than 30 cities around the country. Visit for more information.

Provided by Healthy News on 8/24/2005
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