All the good things in life are bad for you. And in the case of the oh-so-heavenly smelling barbecued ribs, this saying is true in more ways than one. A new study has shown that the carcinogens from barbecue smoke can get into your system not only through your lungs, but also your skin.
That’s right, the bad stuff can literally seep into your body through your biggest organ. And wearing clothing does little to protect you.
The study conducted by the American Chemical Society investigated the pathways that the carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) entered the body when people stand around a grill. Researchers divided subjects into groups at an outdoor barbecue with varying types of PAH exposure: through food, through inhalation, and through skin exposure. Then, they measured the amount of PAH in their urine.
Of course, people who ate the food with PAHs had the most in their urine. But skin exposure surprisingly accounted for the second largest amount.
Researchers also noted that clothing can protect the skin for a short amount of time, but once it’s saturated with smoke, it doesn’t keep the carcinogens from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
So instead of an apron, you might want to throw on a Hazmat suit the next time you fire up the grill.