A health expert, Dr. Chinonso Egemba, has cautioned Nigerians against consuming ‘suya’ that is not properly cooked, noting that consuming such can lead to cancer.
‘Suya’ is a Nigerian street snack that is made with beef and spices.
The medical practitioner, popularly known as ‘Aproko Doctor’ on social media explained that the problem with consuming ‘suya’ is not necessarily the meat, but the method in which it is being prepared.
In a post on his Instagram page @aproko_doctor, Egemba stated that when meat is cooked over open flames, it creates chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or heterocyclic imines.
He said, “When you burn meat over open flames, it creates chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or heterocyclic imines. These particular compounds may get activated by certain enzymes in your body that end up damaging your DNA, and damage to this DNA leads to cancer.
He explained saying, “These chemicals have been shown to cause changes in the DNA of cells. These changes make it easier for a person to develop cancer.
“The risk of getting cancer is higher if the meat is thoroughly cooked and if there are black charcoal marks on the meat itself.
“Some cancers such as colon cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic and even breast cancers have been linked to this.
“These compounds, HCAs and PCAs, damage DNA, but only after certain enzymes have activated them. These enzymes and their activity vary from one person to the other hence different risks in developing cancer, especially if there is a family history of cancer,” he said.
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Egbema urged Nigerians to adopt safer ways of eating meat.
He said, “Ensure your meat is not cooked over open flames, you can air fry your meat or grill it in the oven and not over an open flame.
“I know some of you will swear that it is that black side of the meat that is sweeter than the other part, remove that black side because those burnt parts that are exposed contain a higher concentration of this compound.
“Eat smaller portions of grilled meat, I know yes, you have suffered in life and you want to reward yourself with N5,000 ‘suya’, but that is not the way to do things,” the physician said.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a group of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline. They are also present in products made from fossil fuels, such as coal-tar pitch, creosote, and asphalt.
“Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are made whenever substances are burned. PAHs are also found at former coal-gasification sites.
“Breathing smoke or coming into contact with contaminated soil exposes people to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
“Some PAHs may cause cancer and may affect the eyes, kidneys, and liver,” it said.
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