Japanese Food Culture : Burn Meat, Risk & Causes of Cancer by Dr. Mallik

What are Heterocyclic Amines (HCA)? What are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s)

The conversation and article between Dr. Mallik and a Japanese friend were recorded in 2013. It talks about the risks of cancer in cooked meat. It also forms an opinion on the Japanese food culture.

After seeing the friend request for a Japanese name on Facebook, I accepted without a second thought. Then after receiving a message from the person, I recognized it immediately. It was Mr. Nakano; he was my companion at Hiroshima University (1985-1987).

Japanese Food Culture

Generally, out of all the other students, Nakano was one of the closest. After graduation, everyone had got a job and moved away and I got in for a doctorate course. Nakano was in IBM, and after 26 years, we had finally come back in touch.

  • How are you Nakano!
  • Not great, my friend. I’ve got cancer.
  • Japanese people eat Iyaki-niku (burn meat) a lot, don’t they? As a result, you guys have stomach cancer quite a lot.
  • Likewise, I loved that a lot.
  • How’s the treatment?
  • Three parts of my stomach were removed and medications are ongoing.
  • What about your job and family?
  • I resigned. Their wife isn’t very well either. The children are almost finished with their studies. I’ve sold the car as there’s no one to drive it.

What’s so harmful in Burn Meat?

We create Heterocyclic Amines when we burn meat or fish. And when we burn the meat, the fat creates a smoky flame containing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both these are responsible for cancer.
The PAHs come back and sit on the surface of the burn meat\fish, thus can double the cause of cancer (I have provided a link at the end of the article).

What are Heterocyclic Amines (HCA)?

We form chemicals while burning raw meat, fish, or poultry, this is called HCA. Heterocyclic amines are carcinogens (substances that may cause cancer), Also called HCA.

These chemicals are really harmful and as a result, cause the risks of cancer. We can decrease its production by using olive oil or marinating the meat. But still, it is present.

What are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s)

A class of chemicals that are created while burning gasoline or other fuels is called PAHs. These chemicals are also carcinogens, which are particles that cause cancer. Along with that, these can also cause kidney and liver damage, jaundice, etc.

Likewise, Barbeque fish or chicken, frilled kebabs, etc. are very risky foods. In our country, barbeque chicken and other grilled meat are very famous. Generally, in marriage ceremonies as well.

Generally, the food in marriages is already air pollution effects are harmful to kids, and overall that grilled chicken! And also barbeque parties in terraces are becoming popular.

Likewise, I was in Tokyo in 2014 for 3 months to study the feasibility of a special bridge in Mombasa, Kenya.

After hearing Nakano was in town, he traveled 500km by night coach to Tokyo. The two of us spent some time in Disneyland. I had visited Tokyo Disneyland twice in the 90s. As a result, it was a great place to take a trip down memory lane. Nakano, who was a cancer patient, didn’t seem like one at all.

Likewise, spotting cancer early and removing the affected part of the stomach helped.

As stomach cancer is very common in Japan, they are very effective in treating it. Generally, Bangladesh is also ahead of Japan in treating piles disease, as it is very common in our country.

Moreover, the Japanese food culture should educate themselves in cases like burnmeat\fish. What is cancer? How can we prevent it?

Should be a regular question to ask, to stay healthy, we should have a good diet and exercise regularly.

[Translated & Written by Sanzida Afrin Tanha, Student, USTC]
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