A random factoid that exists in my brain is that the yummy burnt char on grilled meat is carcinogenic. I don’t have a link to cite for that fact, I know it because my cube neighbor is a health editor for msnbc.com. (She’s also a vegetarian and has pointed out that yummy burnt char on grilled vegetables is not carcinogenic.)
Today I added to that factoid the detail that the grilling causes proteins and sugars in chicken to form heterocyclic amines, which is what is cancerous. On top of that, I now know that marinating my grilled chicken in lemon juice, salt water, or possibly other acidic, high sugar content marinades is likely to inhibit the formation of these heterocyclic amines, thereby making the grilled chicken healthier for me to eat.
Want to know how I know these new, important details? I learned them from Lauren Hodge, whose work on decreasing carcinogens made her the winner in the 13-14-year-old age group (beating four other finalists) of the first annual Google Science Fair.
Worth noting: The winners in all three age groups were American girls.
(Just to avoid confusion, it’s not clear that Ms. Hodge’s research was testing yummy burnt char. It seems she was able to test for heterocyclic amines in the cooked meat itself. Cook time was based on change in mass of the piece of chicken, not the presence of yummy char.)