Grill Your Steak, Not Your Health: The Beer Marinade Method to Slash Cancer Risk

Ah, the sweet smell of freshly grilled meat wafts through the air during those warm summer evenings as families gather around backyard barbecues, and there is something irresistible about a juicy burger or steak right off the grill. But did you know that those delicious cooked meats might actually be hiding dangerous cancer-causing agents? Worry not, because researchers at Ohio State University have discovered a simple method that allows you to enjoy the mouth-watering flavor without the carcinogens: marinating the meat with beer before grilling it.

Grilled Meat and Carcinogens

In order for us to understand how beer can help eliminate the risk of cancer from grilled meat, we first need to examine why these meats are considered hazardous in the first place. Grilled meats can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are potent carcinogens that have been linked to colorectal cancer. PAHs can also be found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust. They form when meat is heated to high temperatures, which is common during grilling or barbecuing.

The Magic of Beer Marinades

When the Ohio State University scientists grilled meat that had been soaked in beer, they discovered that it reduced the formation of eight types of PAHs by approximately 50 percent. The research showed that dark beer worked the best, primarily because of its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are known to have cancer-fighting properties and help neutralize free radicals in the body, which can damage cells and lead to cancer.

Besides reducing the risk of carcinogens, marinating meat in beer also has other health benefits. It helps tenderize the meat and allows for better absorption of flavors. Plus, beer contains enzymes that break down proteins in the meat, making the meal easier to digest.

How to Marinade Meat in Beer

If you are eager to reduce the risk of cancer in your grilled meat while also enjoying the robust flavor brought by a beer marinade, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose your beer: As mentioned earlier, dark beer is the most effective in reducing PAHs, but you can also use any variety you prefer. The key is to experiment with different beers and choose the one that best suits your taste buds.
  2. Prepare the meat: Trim off the excess fat, as fat promotes the formation of PAHs when it drips onto the heating source. This produces smoke that carries the carcinogens back to the meat. Choose lean cuts or skinless poultry.
  3. Mix the marinade: Combine your desired beer with other ingredients of your choosing, such as herbs, spices, oils, and vinegars. Get creative and tailor the marinade to your specific taste preferences. A general rule of thumb is to use one part beer for every three parts of your marinade mixture.
  4. Marinate the meat: Place the meat in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag, and pour the beer marinade over it. Let the meat rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat. Poultry and fish will generally require less marinating time than beef or pork.
  5. Grill your meat: Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the liquid. Cook your meat on medium heat to avoid charring, which can also produce carcinogens. Turn the meat frequently, and use a food thermometer to ensure it has reached the proper internal cooking temperature.

Other Tips for Healthier Grilling

In addition to marinating your meat in beer, there are some other methods you can incorporate to make your grilling experience safer and healthier:

  • Use lean cuts of meat and trim visible fat before grilling.
  • Consider grilling fruits and vegetables for a healthier and more colorful meal.
  • Select thinner cuts of meat, which require less cooking time and minimize the risk of charring.
  • Pay attention to the cooking temperature and avoid overheating, which increases the risk of carcinogen production.
  • Create a barrier between the meat and the heat source, such as a sheet of foil, to reduce the formation of PAHs.
  • Always keep the grill clean to prevent build-up of carcinogens from previous cooking sessions.


With the simple addition of a beer marinade, you can not only enhance the flavor of your grilled meats but also significantly reduce the potential risk of cancer. By incorporating these tips and techniques into your grilling routine, you can enjoy your favorite summer backyard barbecue classics without the worry of carcinogens. So, it’s time to crack open a beer, fire up the grill, and savor the delicious (and safer) results.