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Does smoking a food make it carcinogenic?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 17, 2012 at 9:58 PM

I smoke a lot of meat and some vegetables, both for flavor and preservation. I use virtually no seasoning but my smokes are so heavy that the foods are coated with what I guess to be wood pyrolysis residues. Does anyone have any references on the carcinogeneity of this stuff when ingested? Mouth, esophagus, stomach and colon.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on November 18, 2012
at 12:12 AM

I've come across some European studies looking at processed meat consumption with cancer but they were found to be inconclusive, such as this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9061275

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 17, 2012
at 11:43 PM

If I use the Slovenian population results and apply it to my US results, I'd expect my risk to elevate to, at most, 15 per 100,000.

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(10611)

on November 17, 2012
at 11:39 PM

The following represents an example of how hard it is to sort out risk with population data. http://www.cancer.gov/aboutnci/servingpeople/snapshots/stomach.pdf Here, overall risk for stomach cancer is shown for many US population groups. Overall 10-15 per 100,000, but there are multiple sources of risk. The best study I've found so far was on a Slovenian population eating home smoked meat with BaH about 8x above commercial smoked meats. Their incidence of stomach cancer was about 2x the frequency of the surrounding population.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/7447916/

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 17, 2012
at 10:56 PM

Thanks. I smoke at variable temperatures, sometimes roasting (350F), sometimes cold (250F or less). In all cases I run under restricted air to get a lot of smoke. The higher temperatures render surface fat which drains away. The lower temperatures not so much, so fat-soluble residues would be more of a problem. I think my question might be answered by population studies, looking for increased incidence of the GI cancers. Do you know of any? I also thought this question might be a repeat, so shut it down if you like.

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Medium avatar

(10663)

on November 17, 2012
at 10:30 PM

Several studies have found a connection between smoking meat and the production of carcinogens (1, 2, 3, 4). Plus, you can look at this old thread on PH.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed by the incomplete combustion of organic matter. A number of PAHs are carcinogenic and mutagenic. Certain cooking processes can form PAHs. The major dietary sources of PAHs are cereals and vegetables, rather than meat, except where there is high consumption of meat cooked over an open flame. If the meat is in direct contact with the flame, pyrolysis of the fats in the meat generates PAHs that can become deposited on the meat (source). You can reduce PAH production by cooking for longer periods at lower temperatures.

The most carcinogenic PAHs are the ones with 5- and 6- fused rings (a major one being benzo[a]pyrene).does-smoking-a-food-make-it-carcinogenic?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 17, 2012
at 10:56 PM

Thanks. I smoke at variable temperatures, sometimes roasting (350F), sometimes cold (250F or less). In all cases I run under restricted air to get a lot of smoke. The higher temperatures render surface fat which drains away. The lower temperatures not so much, so fat-soluble residues would be more of a problem. I think my question might be answered by population studies, looking for increased incidence of the GI cancers. Do you know of any? I also thought this question might be a repeat, so shut it down if you like.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on November 18, 2012
at 12:12 AM

I've come across some European studies looking at processed meat consumption with cancer but they were found to be inconclusive, such as this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9061275

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