Meat lovers just can't win lately. At the end of October, a research division of the World Health Organization announced that bacon, sausage, and other processed meats cause cancer and that red meat probably does, too. And then a study from the University of Texas came out shortly after saying that grilled meat specifically is linked to kidney cancer.
But just as we were all about to drive our tailgating grills straight to the dump, some good(ish) news came out of the woodworks. In the newest issue of Cancer, researchers offer up a study that throws us a bone (albeit a small one). One possible, data-backed way to lower — though not eliminate — the risk of growing tumors from eating bacon: cook it on lower heat.
"The lower-risk methods are baking and broiling," says co-author Stephanie Melkonian. Other lower-temperature cooking techniques include sous-viding (LOL imagine doing that at home), slow cooking, or pot roasting.
Cooking meat on high heat, particularly over an open flame, gives it that delicious charred taste, sure, but unfortunately, research shows it welcomes in chemical compounds that could be carcinogenic. One compound in particular — a heterocyclic amine called MelQx caused by high-temp grilling, barbecuing, and pan-frying — is associated with a nearly twofold increase in risk for kidney cancer.
More research needs to be done, as usual, but if you're a meat lover, it probably wouldn't hurt to adopt a new motto: Low and slow is the way to go!