Too hot to grill outside?  Too cold?  Stuck in a New York City Restaurant?  

Here is how you pan fry a steak.  Put a bunch of salt and pepper on it, some butter too.  Heat an oven to 450 degrees.  Iron skillet too, as hot as you can get it on a stove. Once both are hot, throw the steak in there and disabled the smoke alarm. Cook it for two minutes or so, then flip it over, take it off the stove and stick the whole thing in the oven for maybe 6 minutes.  

Result; a delicious pan-friend steak as good as anything as you will get in a restaurant; and up to a 40% increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a new study in Carcinogenesis which, you can tell by the name, is a pretty scary magazine.

Previous studies have tried to link diets high in red meat and risk of prostate cancer, but evidence is limited - but the cooking method may mean more potent chemical carcinogens are formed when meats are cooked at high temperatures.

This study looked at pooled data from nearly 2,000 men who participated in the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study, a multi-ethnic, case-control study conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area by Esther John, Ph.D., CPIC senior research scientist, and in Los Angeles by Sue A. Ingles, DrP.H., associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Study participants completed a comprehensive questionnaire that evaluated amount and type of meat intake, including poultry and processed red meat. Information regarding cooking practices (e.g., pan-frying, oven-broiling and grilling) was obtained using color photographs that displayed the level of done-ness. More than 1,000 of the men included in the study were diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

So calibrate accordingly.  The risk is collated by correlating self-reported methods of cooking meat among people who got prostate cancer.  Mariana Stern, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has no problem making the link, though. "We found that men who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30 percent," Stern said. "In addition, men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperatures were 40 percent more likely to have advanced prostate cancer."

So they link not only red meat but how it was cooked.  And the numbers are more strange from there;  hamburgers, but not steak, were linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, especially among Hispanic men. 

Baked poultry had a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer but pan-fried poultry was associated with increased risk. Pan-frying was the common denominator in an increased risk of prostate cancer.  Even fish cooked at high temperatures, particularly pan-fried, increased the risk of prostate cancer, Stern said.

Why would pan-frying pose a higher risk for prostate cancer? It's all speculation but they say it might be due to the formation of the DNA-damaging carcinogens — heterocyclic amines (HCAs) —during the cooking of red meat and poultry. HCAs are formed when sugars and amino acids are cooked at higher temperatures for longer periods of time. Other carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed during the grilling or smoking of meat. When fat from the meat drips on an open flame, the rising smoke leaves deposits of PAHs on the meat. There is evidence that HCAs and PAHs contribute to certain cancers, including prostate cancer.

"The observations from this study alone are not enough to make any health recommendations, but given the few modifiable risk factors known for prostate cancer, the understanding of dietary factors and cooking methods are of high public health relevance," said Stern.