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Marinating meat in dark beer may inhibit cancer risk

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With spring finally on the horizon, thoughts turn to backyard barbecues.

Besides just the warmer weather, there's more good news if you like a cold brew with your barbecue.

European researchers have discovered that marinating meat with dark beer dramatically reduces carcinogenic contamination, which is caused by the contact of dripping fat with hot embers.

Mother Jones reports on the the study, which will be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Researchers tested the effect of marinating meat with Pilsner, nonalcoholic Pilsner, and Black beer, against a control sampling of raw meat.

Black beer showed the strongest "inhibitory effect," reducing the formation of carcinogenic PAHs by 53 percent. Pilsner beer and nonalcoholic Pilsner, showed less significant results: 13 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Mother Jones reports scientists aren't entirely sure why a beer marinade has this effect. They speculate that it might be the antioxidant compounds in beer, especially darker varieties, which inhibit the movement of free radicals necessary for the formation of PAHs.

PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are a class of more than 100 chemicals composed of up to six benzene rings fused together such that any two adjacent benzene rings share two carbon bonds.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has classified PAH compounds as probably or possibly carcinogens.

Several studies show increased incidence of cancer (lung, skin and urinary cancers) in humans exposed to PAH mixtures.

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