Doctor's Note

I’ve touched on those cooked meat carcinogens before. In Estrogenic Cooked Meat Carcinogens I explored the role of these cooked meat chemicals in tumor growth. PhIP: The Three Strikes Breast Carcinogen explored their role in cancer invasion. Reducing Cancer Risk In Meateaters offered some mediation strategies. Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, and Creatine? showed how even vegetarians may be at risk and Cancer, Interrupted: Green Tea and Cancer, Interrupted: Garlic & Flavonoids explored some counter measures.

See Meat Fumes: Dietary Secondhand Smoke. Even the smell of frying bacon may be carcinogenic: Carcinogens in the Smell of Frying Bacon).

Some plant foods exposed to high temperatures may also present a concern. See Is Yerba Maté Tea Bad for You? and Acrylamide in French Fries. What about Carcinogens in Roasted Coffee?

The broccoli liver enzyme boost story is covered in The Best Detox.

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Nick Trippel

    Minor technical point. This video equates “smoked salmon” with “lox.” The two are not necessarily the same. Some lox is “hot smoked”, some is “cold smoked” and some is not smoked at all.

    • HereHere

      I generally agree, although where I live, most smoked salmon is cold smoked.

  • Nevo


  • Adam Alatif

    Thanks Dr. Greger for enlighten us on Smoked Salmon. That was the only thing I could occasionally eat but having watched your video, I think I’ll be having second thoughts about eating it.
    I consider myself a neighboring Vegan – Fish (salmon and mackerel) were the only things that I’d eat on rare occasions. And I’ve been reconsidering to quit that as well.
    I do follow a rigid pant based diet and thanks to you for reinforcing the message to the general public.
    Great show, thanks.

    • Thea

      Adam: Years ago, when I was transitioning from full omnivore to vegetarian (I’m vegan now), the last flesh I gave up was smoked salmon and lox. It is definitely a tough one to give up.

      • Adam Alatif

        Hi Thea,
        I’ve just made up my mind not to eat smoked salmon again but I do find Mackerel and Salmon quite tasty! So, far, I’ve given up practically all other types of meat, eggs, dairy, etc… Maybe in due course I’ll be able to exclude fish from from entering the flowing streams of my system so I can maintain a healthier constitution and maybe, just maybe there’ll be more fish in sea!

    • lilyroza

      It may help you to give it up, if you consider that salmon is an endangered species. Also, almost all the “wild” salmon, was actually bred in hatcheries, and the true wild salmon cannot compete with those raised in hatcheries, making them even more endangered.

      • Adam Alatif

        I’m still not over my fish intake, yet. I still eat trout or salmon on some occasions.
        Apart from that, I have been a good boy so far, and have maintained a straight vegan path on all other aspects.

        I suppose we all have our own battles and I know that mine revolves more around moderation vs. abandonment.

        • lilyroza

          It’s just a suggestion, possible motivation for those who are trying to progress towards veganism. I have been on this vegetarian path for 40 years, at first eating a bit of meat every year or so, then eventually becoming vegan, EXCEPT FOR a bit of honey or as (Mrs. Vegan America) Linda Middlesworth calls it: “bee vomit”! Perfection is still eluding me, but hope springs eternal.

  • Gar Zuzik

    So simply stated, the artificial smoking sauces/ingredient is not nearly as risky as the actual process of actually smoking different animal product due to the lipophilic properties? Some sauces with the liquid smoke would possibly contain some fat/oils, so that would lead to concern potentially.

  • Thea

    This video is so, So, SO helpful!!! I don’t eat it all the time, but I greatly enjoy some liquid smoke in some dishes. But I had some lingering concerns. This video has done a great job of putting those concerns to rest/putting the situation into perspective.

    Also, thanks for showing those brand names on the liquid smoke. I got the point of the end of the video and am not really worried. But I like the idea that I could look for brands that might even be safer.


  • Thea

    Dr. Greger: I should add: I’m also interested in results of smoked salt, which I substitute for regular salt all the time (far more than I ever use liquid smoke). I would expect the results would be the same as for smoked salt as liquid smoke since salt does not have fat. But if you come across any research about smoked salt in the future, I would appreciate a return to this subject. That smoked salt is wonderful.

    • LynnCS

      Thea. Thanks for bringing this up. I was on the verge of buying some smoked salt lately and also need to know what smoke flavor/brand the manufacturers are using. Although I should, probably, just forget it. I wonder if the salt co. would provide that info

      • Thea

        LynnCS: re: “Although I should, probably, just forget it.”

        It’s up to you of course, but I found the video to be quite empowering on this topic. I would expect smoked salt to have results close to smoked paprika (which came off in flying colors) or at worse like liquid smoke (which when put in context came off just fine for my comfort level). So, while I’m interested in learning about studies specific to smoked salt, I see no reason so far to eliminate it. And a little bit can truly transform a dish.

        You might consider trying that smoked paprika if you haven’t already.

  • Chris

    Makes me wonder if there have been any population studies around those who are known to barbeque. Would the cancer rate demonstrate a correlation. It was my impression that cultures such as Norway who eat high amounts of smoked salmon have a low rate of cancer.

    • LynnCS

      I don’t really know about Norway, although I am a bit Norwegian, but was married to a Finn. The salmon they prepared was actually not smoked, but salted. It was fantastic, but lt was layered on a container like a glass container, bowl with coarse salt and spices like whole pepper (allspice,) Sprigs of whole dill is nice too. Place a heavy lid, glass or other non reactive, directly on the fish and leave for several days. You’ll see the fish give up it’s liquid and change into a more solid form considered “cooked” by the salt. Slice on the diagonal, very thin.

      We would also buy that thin pkg of “smoked salmon” occasionally, and sometimes layer it with onions in scalloped potatoes. I have to say that as a committed plant based eater, I would have to try some of that if I saw it at a buffet, provided it only had the salmon in it. It’s so good. Sorry plant based friends. Wonder how that salmon is made. Is it the same as the smoked filets?

  • LynnCS

    OMG, about the smoked salmon! I haven’t had much meat/fish in years but every now and then get a hankerin for some ready made smoked salmon I see at the deli of my local store. I thought, “A little bit won’t hurt.” Haven’t indulged in a couple years and am doing fine, so I guess it needs to go on that “let it go list,” along with cheese and oil, my most recent Aha items. Somehow or other life is great without them. Obsessions are so wierd! Thanks, Dr Greger, for all the work you put into this site. It really makes a difference. Imagine all the healthy choices you help us to make. I was wondering about this issue. Now please point us in the direction of simulating a “smokie” taste naturally, if you have some info. Thanks, Lynn.

    • b00mer

      Smoked paprika can be added to anything really and doesn’t impart much flavor beyond the smokiness. I LOVE canned chipotles in adobo sauce, though they lend a bit of spiciness along with the smokiness and imo are best in texmex/mexican type dishes.

  • Darryl

    Smoked paprika is IMO the easiest way to veganize dishes that call for smoked meat/sausage flavoring, and is a staple in my kitchen. Glad to that current evidence suggests its innocuous.

    • guest

      I never even thought of using paprika, much less smoked paprika to get that simulated taste. This sounds great thanks! Now to just find a store in range that has it.

      • guest

        FYI….be careful with paprika. It is in the nightshade family and has been known to cause arthritic symptoms, as well as other painful ailments, in sensitive people. I wish it wasn’t the case but it is. Some people wonder why they feel awful….paprika, and other nightshades (potato, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, goji berries….) can really do some harm.
        Elimination of all nightshade for an extended time, and then reintroducing into the diet, is the best way to find out.

    • DGH

      I’ve fondly missed your posts. (I haven’t used smoked paprika in a very long time. The brands I’ve bought all contained ethoxyamine. Someone on this website pointed out that this was a pesticide, at least as employed in Europe. But then you mentioned that it was considered to be safe by the FDA or USDA. Anyway).

    • Thea

      Darryl: In the last couple of years, I’ve reduced my guacamole recipe to: avacado and smoked paprika. Mash and eat. I love it. (Though I have to confess that sometimes I throw in some smoked salt too or other stuff like nutritional yeast.)

      • Veganrunner

        Interesting! Guacamole with paprika? Ok. I am trying it this weekend. I normally throw a bit of the homemade salsa in but why not? And of course squeeze of lime.

    • Aaron Kester

      Here is my own baked bean recipie, I love to add some smoky flavor:

      1 can no salt added beans of choice drained

      1 onion

      2 tsp garlic

      1 tbsp molasses

      2 tsp mustard

      1/2 tbsp soy saouce or liquid aminoes

      1 tsp worchesterchire sauce

      1 tsp apple cider vinegar

      dash liquid smoke

      drop maple extract (optional)

      1/2 tsp smoked pakrika

      Heat medium pan and add onion with water to prevent sticking. Cook until carmalized, then add remaining ingrediants and cook for a few more minutes until desired consistancy is reached.

  • Andrew

    OK, so I guess I’ll keep adding some mesquite smoke powder to my morning oatmeal.

    • Sven

      seriously? Is that good? haha

    • Thea

      Andrew: That’s very interesting. Most people tend to make their oatmeal sweet. Sounds like you go for savory. Out of curiosity, do you add anything else to your morning oatmeal?

      • Andrew

        It’s very much a savory oatmeal. The most current incarnation is: Bob’s
        Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats, crushed tomato, Trader Joes Fire
        Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions, artichoke hearts, kale, nutritional yeast, ground ginger,
        ground fenugreek, ground turmeric, black pepper, mesquite smoke powder
        and saffron. And a squirt of Sriracha sauce. The veggies are frozen. I
        mix everything together and nuke it while I’m in the shower every

        • Thea

          Cool. Thanks very much for sharing.

        • Diana Lutz

          Shame you nuked it ,all nurition in that food/recipe just went right out the window. when you microwave anything all good is gone after. its worst thing for your food . Best to eat all we can Raw! Im not there myself yet in transition stages ,but just know raw uncooked foods is best for our health .

          • Thea

            Diana: I am not aware of any scientific evidence saying that microwaving food destroys all nutrition. In fact there are studies showing that for some foods, microwaving is actually one of the better methods for preserving the nutrition in food. You can learn more here if you are interested:

            The above video is also one of the videos where Dr. Greger addresses the issue of eating raw.

          • Diana Lutz

            No its not lmao please simply look on youtube for truth about microwaves

        • Shellie .

          This sounds perfect for me. I can’t bring myself to eat oatmeal, but all that’s added here has me salivating. Do you measure out what you add? Is this just one serving? Thanks.

      • b00mer

        Hi Thea, I admit I’ve never tried it, as I prefer sweet (berries!) oatmeal, but this thread reminded me of the Healthy Librarian’s savory oatmeal recipe:

        • Thea

          b00mer: That’s a fantastic page! Thanks for sharing it. I usually skip to the recipes on sites like that, but I ended up reading the whole post before getting the recipe.

          Thanks for pointing this out to me. I’m working myself up to giving it a try.

          • Tommasina

            OK, you two intrigued me! I think I’m going to try this crazy savory oatmeal this week. Greens six times a day! What a goal. :)

          • Thea

            Tommasina: Good luck. I think it is an admirable goal. Personally, I have a long way to go. :-( But I am definitely getting better on greens consumption.

          • Tommasina

            Thea, I’ve had the savory oatmeal twice this week and I gotta confess, I’m a fan! And thanks for the luck, I’ll need it to get up to 6. I sometimes hit greens 3-4 times when it’s an intentional effort, I’m working on it though. :)

          • Thea

            Tommasina: You so good! I’m impressed. I think it takes some courage to step outside one’s comfort zone.

            Yo are WAY ahead of me. But while Iag on amount of greens that I’m actually getting down me, I’m doing better all the time. So, I’ll catch up eventually… :-)

            Thanks for the update. That was a great goad for me. I had forgotten about this idea already. Argh!

          • Thea

            Tommasina: I’m officially reporting in regarding savory oatmeal. I took three recipes and made a version that took bits and pieces from all three recipes. (Thank you to Andrew and Boomer for your help!) The first time I made it, I didn’t like it at all. But a big part of the problem was that it was just too spicy for me. So, I adjusted the spices and tried again. The second time was much better. I’m definitely keeping savory oatmeal as a breakfast option. I’ve made (and eaten!) the second version 2 times now.

            For anyone interested, here is the recipe that I ended up pretty much liking:
            * 1/4 cup porridge style/cut grains (I am currently using a mix of Bob’s Red Mill Scottish oats and Kamut.)
            * 2 Tbs ground flaxseed (that’s 1/2 of a 1/4 measuring cup – just eyeball it)
            * 1 Tbs or so of Nutritional Yeast

            * 1/4 tsp turmeric
            * 1/8 tsp cumin
            * 1/8 tsp ginger powder

            * black pepper to taste
            * dash of mesquite seasoning
            * 1/6 bullion cube
            * some cut up greens (which may need pre-nuking, not sure yet)
            * some more tasty-to-me veggies like mushrooms or the bellpepper/onion mix Andew mentioned, etc.

            * scant cup of water

            Mix well and zap in microwave for 3 minutes. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Eat and enjoy. Maybe add a bit of savory cashew cream if you feel that it is still too spicy or if you feel it needs some added fat.

            Makes 1 serving. Tastes good at lunch too.

            I’m going to play with making a week’s worth so I can make it over the weekend and have an easier time with breakfast during the week. Also, I’m going to continue to play with the spices. For example, I’m going to try Fenugreek. I just have to buy it…

          • Tommasina

            Thea, I’m glad to hear that you found a way to make it tasty for you! I like the idea of putting in black salt and mesquite seasoning for spice–yummy!

            When I make mine, I cook the oats on the stove with sliced sundried tomatoes so they get nice and soft. As soon as the oats are cooked, I turn off the heat and mix in the greens. Then I add turmeric, black pepper, and a sprinkle of nori. I usually add 1/4 c of nutritional yeast to give it a really cheesy flavor.

            Good thinking re: making it in advance. I’m going to try that this week, with the mushrooms and black salt. Thanks for the report! Happy eating. :)

          • Thea

            Oooh, sprinkle of nori. Now that’s definitely an ingredient I’m going to have to play with. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kathy

    Slight left turn here: I’d like to know exactly what it is the Doctor orders when he is out to dinner at a restaurant?

    And, what a typical day’s meal’s look like for him?

    Thanks Dr. Greger!! Love your videos

  • BodyRocker Kudelka
  • Diana Lutz

    Look it up !! fruit and veggies becomes toxic after heated

    • Devin Wiesner

      Diane, could you please provide some citations to academic studies in support of your statement that fruits and vegetables become toxic? Thanks.

      • Diana Lutz

        not all foods but most and yes fruits,veggies , meats ,fried and brbq esp burnt meat.. and breads also baked goods , I will try to find links , I had a freind show me this in the first place , I looked into it and found he was you cooked all nutrients out of it , change the molecular structure when food is heated.

      • Diana Lutz .. THE LINK YOU ASKED FOR>> cooked-food-is-actually-toxic-to-humans

        • Johanna Martin

          Link not working….

  • TheLance3185 .

    Damn! Ilove lox! Just not the carcinogenic type.

  • terra

    how do you clean it.

  • June

    so i am buying lunch meat like Smoked Turkey. Are you saying that a brand that uses liquid smoke to flavor their lunch meat is safer than one that actually smokes its meat over a fire before processing?
    Ty for ur input!

  • Youcef

    Wonderful video! Thanks. The “essence” of the whole smoking/roasted debate is that anything that produces smoke or carbonized organics is toxic in more than one way, and sometimes plain mutagenic.

  • mdouble

    I have always wondered about liquid smoke. I suspected it was not so good to consume, but had nothing on which to base that opinion – until now. For vegans, there’s a hidden sub issue here which I think deserves further explanation. Smoke is a product of grilling things such a meat or fish. It is that singular unique taste which is associated with Barbeque. It’s one of those tastes which many commercial BBQ sauces attempt to reproduce.

    When transitioning to a vegan diet some try to reproduce such familiar tastes, like BBQ as a means of making it easier. The use of liquid smoke, or sauces with include that flavour may be tempting ways to make tofu or tempeh seem more meaty. This is fine within certain limits especially in the early days of making the move to eating vegan. However, I think it is important to transition away from the old familiar tastes and embrace others which are perhaps cleaner, fresher and less meaty.

    Barbequed foods are attractive for a variety of reasons, one of which may be social. I think there is an argument to be made that some of the attraction may be a genetically encoded memory. Roasting animal flesh over an open fire and the communal sharing of food might be one of those primal ancient memories which we share. As we go vegan, moving away from such memories may be a matter of replacing something old, with something new.

  • Susan Courty

    I was wondering what the data shows with respect to smoked.vegetables and smoked tofu. Thanks, in advance!

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Smoking tofu and veggies is not going to produce the harmful carcinogens found when smoking meat. It’s the animal tissue itself. There are cancer risks from deep fried foods like french fries.

  • Richard Dey

    So I take it that starving to death is still the cheapest way out?

  • AL Wood

    Would the following vegan cheese “Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash” be considered a smoked product ? Thanks, Al Wood – Baltimore :)

    Coated in black ash with a dense, smooth, creamy texture, and a
    mildly tangy, buttery sweetness. Great served with fruit or baked en

    Free of cholesterol, lactose, egg, gluten and soy. Non-GMO product.

    Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water,
    Organic Chick Pea Miso (Organic Chickpeas, Organic Rice Koji, Sea Salt,
    Water, Koji Spores), Nutritional Yeast, Vegetable Ash, Sea Salt and