Whenever a new study about the health risks of some delicious food comes along, I sigh at my keyboard, exhaling a soft “I’m just trying to live my life, man.” Coffee was the latest comestible we were supposed to be concerned about, and that was devastating enough. Now, Chinese researchers question whether we might not even have to eat grilled meats in order for our bodies to absorb carcinogenic “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” (PAHs)—the smoke from our grills alone introduces these into our bodies.
A study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, tracked the PAH intake of individuals who were grilling meats. Researchers discovered that eating grilled meats was the primary method of introducing PAHs into the body, but that dermal transmission—just absorbing them through your skin while standing near a grill—was enough to introduce the PAHs as well. In fact, it was responsible for more PAH intake than just inhaling grill smoke. “In the case of BBQ fumes, dermal absorption was a more important pathway for intake of low molecular-weight PAHs than inhalation,” the paper’s abstract states. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Several of the PAHs and some specific mixtures of PAHs are considered to be cancer-causing chemicals.”
Well, great. So even before I’ve bit into the juicy, sauerkraut-topped grilled brat, I’m still screwed just because I showed up at the brat party and hovered near the grill? (How else can I guarantee I’m going to get the primo brat?) Life is cruel, what with science declaring all my favorite foods and beverages as “health risks.” I do try to eat healthfully and work out and all that, but if grilling brats are what ultimately does me in, then at least I’ll die doing what I loved.