Diabetes Forecast

Grilling Red Meat Ups Type 2 Risk

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What to Know

Just in time for summer grilling season, researchers present evidence that certain high-heat methods of cooking red meat—including over an open flame—may boost the risk of type 2 diabetes. Past research has shown that cooking at high heat can produce cancer-causing chemicals. This is the first study to examine whether such cooking methods influence diabetes risk.

The Study

For 26 years, Harvard researchers followed 59,033 women, ages 30 and 55, who ate red meat (such as beef, pork, and lamb) at least twice a week. None of the women had diabetes at the start of the study. In 1986, when the study began, the researchers asked the women how often they cooked red meat in the following ways: broiling, barbequing/grilling, roasting, pan-frying, and stewing or boiling. Every four years, the women described their eating habits. They reported on their health, including diabetes diagnoses, every two years. During the study period, 6,206 women developed type 2 diabetes.

The Results

The researchers linked three methods of cooking red meat with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes when they compared women who used these methods at least twice a week to women who cooked with these methods less than once a month. Broiling increased the risk of diabetes by 29 percent, barbequing/grilling by 23 percent, and roasting by 11 percent. The more often the women cooked using any of those methods, the greater their risk of type 2 diabetes became. Pan-frying, stewing, and boiling did not increase the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.


Limit how often you cook red meat on the grill, under the broiler, or in the oven, and you may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes also should consider cutting back on these cooking methods, says the study’s lead author, because high-heat and open-flame cooking contribute to inflammation and other risk factors for heart disease. The authors don’t know whether cooking poultry or fish using these methods would present similar risks. To best protect your heart, eat red meat in moderation, no matter how you cook it.

Cooking Methods for Red Meats and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study of U.S. Women.” Gang Liu, Geng Zong, Frank B. Hu, Walter C. Willett, David M. Eisenberg, and Qi Sun. Diabetes Care, published online June 13, 2017.

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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