ELI5: Why is the black stuff on charred food considered a carcinogen?
18 0 drew1492 Cooking meat at high temperatures causes some of the amino acids that make up the muscle tissue to chemically react to form two classes of carcinogenic compounds: [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycyclic_aromatic_hydrocarbon) and [heterocyclic amines](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterocyclic_amine). How exactly these types of compounds cause or promote cancer is incredibly complex and not even well understood in latest state-of-the-art research, definitely beyond the scope of an ELI5. But meat that has been charred has reached a high enough temperature for this reaction to occur.
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1 0 thelostbeing Wow, and I used to make fun of my Mom for telling me this is what her friends told her O.o...