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Studying the Thenar Eminence of Amateur cooKs (STEAK) study: a double-blinded, cross-sectional study

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Steak browning is the result of the protein myoglobin being denatured by heat, and is strongly correlated with heterocyclic amine formation.1 Heterocyclic amines are suspected to be a risk factor in colorectal cancer because of their association with oxidative stress, so that overcooked meats may be carcinogenic.2 On the other hand, the levels of potentially toxic bacteria, including Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes, rapidly decline the more a steak is cooked.3 At the same time, lean beef has been found to have positive cardiovascular health benefits in that it reduces low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels, and should thus not be excluded from a balanced diet.4 As a result, the importance of determining the doneness of a steak is not limited to the fancy of gastronomes, but is an important health question.

Several methods have been developed to assess the doneness of a steak, including the invasive techniques of internal steak temperature monitoring and visual assessment.5 A third, non-invasive technique is the “finger test”, using the thenar eminence of the human hand. The thenar eminence is made up of the abductor pollicis brevis, flexor pollicis brevis and opponens pollicis…