Grilling skewers of vegetables does not produce carcinogens – cancer-causing substances – as opposed to grilling meats

The Fourth of July holiday is almost here. If you’re firing up your grill or joining friends or family to celebrate, we have some tips on healthier grilling from Maria Petzel, our go-to for all things diet and nutrition-related for both pancreatic cancer patients and anyone looking for healthy meal advice.

Petzel is senior clinical dietitian for the Pancreas Surgery Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and a member of PanCAN’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.

Here’s what she had to offer on the topic, just in time for our biggest summer holiday:

“Carcinogens – substances capable of causing cancer – are produced when meats (animal proteins) are cooked at high temperatures, so grilled meats can certainly increase the levels of carcinogens in the body. Marinating can reduce the formation of one type of potential carcinogen associated with grilling – use an acidic marinade such as vinegar or citrus juice. And no carcinogens are produced with grilled vegetables, so you can grill all the veggies you want.”

Check out delicious marinade recipes like tangy yogurt-spice and herbed Dijon marinade and basting sauce.

In addition to marinating meat and sticking to grilled veggies, the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests cooking lean cuts of meat in the center of the grill to reduce flare-ups and charring, and precooking the meat in a microwave, oven or stove.

If you’re a pancreatic cancer patient and have questions about healthy eating, or to get a copy of our Diet and Nutrition Booklet, please call Patient Central at 877-272-6226 to speak with a Patient Central Associate.


Pancreatic cancer patients and caregivers can access comprehensive disease information, reviewed and approved by renowned leaders in the field, including Petzel, by calling the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s one-on-one Patient Central support service at 877-272-6226 or emailing