Bad news for meat consumers – meat can contain substances hundreds of times more dangerous than previously thought

Scientists at the University of Oregon have discovered new compounds generated by certain chemical reactions which are hundreds of times more capable of mutation than the original compounds that are well-known carcinogens. The bad news is that these newly discovered compounds are produced by chemical reactions that occur in barbecued meat as well as in gas exhaust pipelines.

Up to now, the existence of these compounds was unknown, so new questions have just been raised referring to their effects on health. The compounds were discovered as a result of a series of lab experiments that imitated the kind of medium which may be produced by the exhaust gas of engines or by barbecuing meat. ‘Some of the compounds that were discovered are much more capable of mutation than we initially thought, and they may exist in the environment as a result of pollution by vehicles or by the preparation of certain types of food’, declared Staci Simonich, professor of Chemistry and Toxicology at the de University of Oregon.

The mother-compounds are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that develop naturally as a result of combustion. Many members of this hydrocarbon family are carcinogens. According to scientists, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are even more problematic when they interact chemically with nitrogen, thus becoming nitrates (NPAHs), and this is exactly what the new compounds are.

Mutagens are chemical substances that may cause modifications of the DNA and, as a result, may cause cancer. Moreover, scientists suspect that numbers indicated by the results of research so far may still be an underestimation of the toxicity of the studied compounds.

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