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What is the best cookware to use for cancer prevention?

kmlmgm Jan 6, 2013 12:24 PM

I have been trying to research this but find conflicting data.

  1. k
    kmlmgm Jan 7, 2013 05:04 AM

    I do. I really wish I had checked my post when I still had time to edit it. I'm embarassed but I think people will get the idea.

    1. f
      foodieX2 Jan 6, 2013 12:43 PM

      Not sure how any type of cookware could *prevent* cancer.

      1. k
        kmlmgm Jan 6, 2013 01:43 PM

        I'll elaborate. My son, 5 now, was diagnosd with nephroblastoma (kidney cancer) last year, at 4. We have just finished 20 weeks of chemo, I'm looking to REDUCE all envionmental toxins that I can. I've always used teflon, obviously that is one of the worst. I am buying new cookware, which is the least toxic?

        5 Replies
        1. re: kmlmgm
          GH1618 Jan 6, 2013 02:14 PM

          First, let me express my sympathy for the serious illness of your son. But it was not likely caused by cookware. It is not at all obvious that Teflon cookware is one of the worst. Used at low-to-moderate cooking temperatures, it is chemically inert. Flaking from the surface is not harmful. But if you don't trust it, there is no need to use it. Get rid of it.

          Probably the most durable and inert cooking surface is hard-anodized aluminum commercial cookware.

          1. re: kmlmgm
            TraderJoe Jan 6, 2013 03:58 PM

            "which is the least toxic"

            First let me also say I'm sorry to hear about your Son.
            It may be easier to list things to avoid like non-stick, aluminum and tin lined copper. I'm afraid even hard anodized aluminum will wear the finish off. I've killed more Calphalon hard anodized Pro than I care to remember.
            In your case I would either go with SS or some type of pyrex cookware. It may not be as efficient but who cares in this case.

            1. re: kmlmgm
              Gingerbaker Jan 6, 2013 04:58 PM

              I am so sorry to hear about your son! I would go with stainless steel as well. Teflon is inert itself but when used with high heat it can release toxic chemicals. I've actually known a person who has lost a pet bird due to Teflon cookware. That's what made me decide to do away with my Teflon. I would also not put plastic cups and dishes in the microwave or serve them with anything other than cold food and drinks, or else not use plastic at all.

              1. re: Gingerbaker
                sueatmo Jan 6, 2013 08:43 PM

                I agree to use SS. It is inert, and it works fine.

                1. re: sueatmo
                  GH1618 Jan 6, 2013 09:21 PM

                  Stainless steel is not "inert," it is merely resistant to rusting. It will leach nickel and chromium.

            2. s
              subal Jan 6, 2013 02:48 PM

              Teflon cookware is good to 500* and any flaking is fully inert and will pass through.

              1. nokitchen Jan 6, 2013 03:23 PM

                Others have talked about the current science on cooked and flaked Teflon, but you don't care about that and you're right not to. What you're looking for is to create an overall environment of minimal toxins for your kid and if the science is ahead, behind, right or wrong is less important than creating that overall culture in your home. I understand.

                In terms of cookware, what you want is stainless steel. Aluminum, copper and even cast iron will leave tiny trace amounts of metal in your food in some instances. Personally, I think a little iron is good for you and that a little copper is at least not bad and maybe good and that the amount of aluminum is so tiny that one need not worry about it. But I don't have a child with cancer. Stainless is less reactive with acidic foods like tomatoes and will therefore leave less metal in cooked foods than other options.

                As you shop for stainless, you'll find that the better cookware has aluminum inside of it, either as a disk in the bottom part or pressed between two layers of stainless throughout the cookware. On really, really high-end cookware you may even find copper in those places. This is fine -- the aluminum or copper won't touch the food.

                You'll also find discussions of the "kind" of stainless (how much chromium and nickel is mixed into the steel). The high-end of the cookware market has reached a consensus that something called 18/10 stainless is best. Again, that may affect the quality of the cookware but you can safely ignore it for safety purposes -- any stainless will suit your needs.

                In addition to the non-reactive nature of stainless, another advantage is that it is very smooth. You'll want to maintain it well such that pits don't develop so that soap or other contaminants don't get caught in the cookware.

                Good luck to you.

                1. g
                  GH1618 Jan 6, 2013 04:02 PM

                  Stainless steel also leaches. Here is a link to a report on the subject:


                  1. kaleokahu Jan 6, 2013 05:54 PM

                    Hi, kmlmgm:

                    Oh, I'm so sorry. I hope you and your son kick cancer's 'okole.

                    I've never recommended this before (because in *other* ways it's terrible cookware), but if the idea is to zero-out chemical interaction between your son's food and the cooking substrate, perhaps you should try Visions by Corningware. I don't think it's currently being made, but there is no shortage of it on eBay, etc.

                    Wahine is a cancer survivor, and so I remember well the importance of doing everything possible nutritionally--it becomes a prayer.

                    May yours be answered.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      sunshine842 Jan 7, 2013 05:04 AM

                      The OP has my total sympathy as well -- but I used to own a set of Visions, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. There's a reason they don't make it anymore!

                      Temperature control is just short of impossible, it holds heat for a ridiculous amount of time, and contrary to what you'd think, stuff sticks to it worse than a dollar-store skillet.

                      One of the happiest days of my cooking life was the day I sent that set packing off to the dumpster (because I pitched it - couldn't stand the guilt of subjecting some poor soul at Goodwill to that crap!) and replaced it with a proper set of pots and pans.

                      Inert only goes so far -- it won't matter anyway when you throw the damned pot out the window because it burned something else.

                    2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 6, 2013 06:59 PM

                      First, like others let me express my sympathy. Second, I want to paint a larger picture and then a smaller picture. The bigger picture is that the food choice will have a much greater impact than the cookware. So I would focus 99% of your efforts on the food ingredients, and 1% on the cookware. You can use the best cookware, but if the foods are no good, then it is a counterproductive.

                      As for the least toxic cookware, I will be as clean as possible here. Different cookware release different materials, and different patients are sensitive to different things. What is healthful to one person can be harmful for another. Take iron for example. Depending if you already have high or low iron level in your blood, iron cookware can be a good or bad thing.

                      Because your son has a kidney condition, I would limit materials which require heavy renal clearance -- in other words, limit materials which requires the kidney to work hard.

                      The worst cookware for your son at this point is likely to be bare copper. For a healthy adult, copper is eliminated though the renal path. Copper will make his kidney to work extra hard, and uncleared copper will worsen the kidney. Iron is actually the opposite for most renal disease patients. Patient with serious renal disease often have low iron level. Of course, you should check with your doctor to monitor his iron level in the circulation system. Ask your doctor about renal anemia, and if your son can be in risk:


                      Because of possibility of low iron level, I would not limit iron cookware at this point. In other words, unless your doctor tell you that your son have high iron level, do not worry about cast iron, carbon steel or stainless steel cookware.

                      Teflon cookware is not as bad as you think, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, then eliminate it. Again, keep in mind that different circumstances require different precaution, and remember that the foods have much greater impact than any cookware choice.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        paulj Jan 6, 2013 11:34 PM

                        How you prepare the food might also make a difference.

                        Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk

                        It talks about the formation of chemicals during high temperature cooking of meat, chemicals that have been shown to produce cancer in animals (though their effect on humans 'is not clear'). To put in simple terms, they are concerned about chemicals in charred meat.

                        If these concerns are valid, nonstick pans might actually be safer than stainless steel or cast iron, since they allow you cook meat at a lower temperature. Most of the advise for cooking in stainless steel stresses getting the pan and oil hot enough so the food does not stick.

                        " PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over an open fire drip onto the fire, causing flames."

                        Are PAHs formed when bacon fat or vegetable oil is heated to smoking while seasoning cast iron (or stainless steel, as some claim)?

                        1. re: paulj
                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 7, 2013 07:30 AM

                          <Are PAHs formed when bacon fat or vegetable oil is heated to smoking while seasoning cast iron (or stainless steel, as some claim)?>

                          I don't know for sure, but it is likely. How much is that transfer to food? Is the real question, and I don't know the answer. On the other hand, you may find this following article useful.


                          Based on this study, a deep-frying kitchen is worse than a regular restaurant kitchen. Maybe it is deep fry itself, or maybe because deep fry restaurants use the same oil for the entire day, the concentration of PAHs is high in the fume.

                          I also know is that if cooking oil is heated above its smoke point, then radicals (carcinogens) are formed. They are not HCAs or PAHs per se, but they are not good. This is why extra virgin olive oil is not a good cooking oil. Good for dressing, yes, but it has a lower smoke point than most cooking oils.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          TraderJoe Jan 7, 2013 04:28 AM

                          "The bigger picture is that the food choice will have a much greater impact than the cookware"

                          This is a solid point. As a sportsman I often work with others each hunting season to get game meat to families that have children with some form of cancer. That may sound odd @ first blush but anti-biotic and steroid free protein gets expensive very fast and this is critical for some.
                          I really like the suggestion for enameled cast iron from phofiend.

                          1. re: TraderJoe
                            kmlmgm Jan 7, 2013 05:03 AM

                            I agree completely. Since his diagnosis, I have been doing A LOT of research on this point. We have a neighbor who supplies us with grass fed organic beef, which all 3 of my kids love, so that is an easy transition for us. I have also looked into the benefits of a whole foods diet, definitely going to implement this as much as possible without being too restrictive (grandparents would shun me if I witheld, say, oreos or golden grahams, NO FAST FOOD EVER though, even before cancer). He is a decent eater, used to love veggies before chemo, I hope that will come back. I feel like I've saturated my brain with nutritional data, the next step is eliminating plastic food containers and replacing the cookware.

                            1. re: kmlmgm
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 7, 2013 06:43 AM

                              <I feel like I've saturated my brain with nutritional data,>

                              Don't try too hard to work on the questionable. Focus the obvious ones first. For example, smoked food. Desipte the fact that I love barbecue and smoked food, smoked food is known to have a correlation with cancer. To be fair, smoked food consumption is correlated to gastrointestinal cancer, not kidney cancer. Over charring food is not good either. I would try to work from the top, you know? PaulJ is also correct (read his post above) that high temperature cooking, especially direct heat cooking above flame may increase the risk of cancer. Red meat is also worse than white meat. I know it is a lot to read, but please skip and read item #5:


                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            kmlmgm Jan 7, 2013 05:05 AM

                            Thank you, this was very helpful and informative.

                          3. phofiend Jan 6, 2013 07:34 PM

                            Enameled cast iron is about as inert as you can get.

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