Ah, summertime…the smell of barbecue and… CANCER?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Summer barbecues are delicious and fun! Unfortunately, eating grilled meat and inhaling smoke increases your risk of cancer. But is that the only risk?

Professor Eddy Zeng and his students from Jinan University threw a barbecue to find out! Men in their twenties were divided into two groups. They all hung around the grill, as men do, but half of them were wearing masks. After the barbecue, researchers collected urine samples to see what chemicals showed up. They looked for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – smoke chemicals that are known to cause cancer.

What did they see? The group that wore masks actually had MORE chemicals in their urine! How could this be? Clothes soak up smoke and its cancer-causing chemicals like a sponge. The masks did the same thing. Inhaling smoke is bad, but skin exposure is WORSE!

To limit your risk, avoid smoky areas or shower and change clothes afterwards!

And after your next beach bonfire, take a skinny dip! For science, of course.