4. Grilling Meat
So much for the summertime staple: Barbecuing meat creates the cancer-causing compounds polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). When fat drips from the meat onto the hot grill, catches fire, and produces smoke, PAHs form. That's what's contained in that delicious-looking charred mark we all look for on our burger. HCAs form when meat is cooked at a high temperature, which can occur during an indoor cooking process as well.
Solution: "Limiting your outdoor cooking, using tin foil, or microwaving the meat first is a sensible precaution," says Michael Thun, MD. He is emeritus vice president for epidemiology and surveillance research with the American Cancer Society.
Wrapping meat in foil with holes poked in it allows fat to drip off, but limits the amount of fat that hits the flames and comes back onto the meat, Thun tells WebMD. Some of the excess fat can also be eliminated by first microwaving meat and choosing cuts of meat that are leaner. There's some evidence that marinating meat may lower the amount of HCAs formed.
5. Opening Your Windows
When the weather turns nice, many of us throw open our windows to breathe in the fresh spring air. But that may be an unhealthy move, considering the combination of seasonal allergies and poor air quality of many cities throughout the U.S. According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, 60% of Americans are breathing unhealthy air. And the pollution inside our homes may be worse than outdoors. The Environmental Protection Agency lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country. Bacteria, molds, mildew, tobacco smoke, viruses, animal dander, house dust mites, and pollen are among the most common household pollutants.
Solution: Shut the windows and run the air conditioner. All air-conditioning systems have a filter that protects the mechanical equipment and keeps them clean of debris.
"Pollen and mold spores that have made their way indoors will be run through the air-conditioning system and taken out of the air as they go through the duct work," MacIntosh says.