a white, odorless but potentially cancer-causing chemical, has been
found in many common foods such as potato chips, French fries, bread,
rice and cereals. It appears that the chemical, which is used in the
treatment of sewage and waste and to manufacture certain chemicals,
plastics and dyes, is a byproduct of cooking food at high temperatures.
Why is this issue coming up now, when foods have been cooked this
way for a significant amount of time? No one ever suspected the
chemical would turn up in food. It wasn’t until 2002, when
researchers in Sweden were conducting studies on the health risks
to workers who had been exposed to acrylamide while on the job,
that they discovered the connection to food. The control group for
the study, people who had not had been exposed to acrylamide at
work, had high levels of acrylamide in their bodies, leading researchers
to look for other sources of exposure such as diet.
The researchers found, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), the U.K. Food Standards Agency and many other countries confirmed,
significant levels of acrylamide in a wide range of foods as a result
of baking or frying, and it is likely that the chemical is also
produced by grilling and roasting food.
While the presence of acrylamide in food has now been established,
no one knows what effect this chemical has on humans when it is
ingested. As written on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s
(EPA) Web site, "EPA has classified acrylamide as a Group B2,
probable human carcinogen," and according to the U.K. independent
Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products
and the Environment (COC), " ... exposure to DNA-damaging carcinogens
such as acrylamide should be as low as reasonably practicable."
Acrylamide has also been shown to cause cancer and neurotoxic effects
in animal studies, and damage to the nervous system in humans who
were exposed to the chemical at work. The FDA is conducting further
studies the impact of this chemical to humans. They are investigating
how acrylamide is formed in food, identifying ways to reduce acrylamide
levels, and studying the potential human health risk of consuming
acrylamide in foods, however some feel the FDA is dragging its feet
and should take more definitive action.
Many processed food manufacturers are also studying the effects
of acrylamide and trying to determine how it could be reduced in
their food products.
Acrylamide has been found particularly in high-carbohydrate foods
cooked at high temperatures. This includes processed bread and grain-products
and potatoes, all of which are not good for you even before you
factor in the acrylamide--you can read more about this concept in
my book The No-Grain Diet. It is not
surprising that heating these foods to high temperatures causes
even worse things to happen. I suspect there are even more "surprises"
produced in these foods that seriously damage health and lead to
the development of chronic degenerative disease.
When most foods are cooked they lose valuable nutrients due to
their fragile nature. Raw foods are one of the major keys to your
health. My nutrition plan emphasizes the need for at least one-third
of your foods to be consumed raw. This can even be extended to protein
sources such as eggs. Raw whole
eggs are a phenomenally inexpensive and incredible source of
high-quality nutrients that many of us are deficient in. Raw
milk is another good example of a food that is beneficial in
its raw state but becomes harmful after it is pasteurized.
If you are like many Americans and are consuming a diet of mostly
processed foods--90 percent of the money Americans spend on food
goes toward processed foods--it is likely that there will be health
consequences down the road. At this time there is no way to avoid
consuming acrylamide if you eat fried, processed foods. But there
is a bright side: you have the power to choose foods that will benefit
your health, such as vegetables
and healthy meats,
and you have the power to change your health for the better.
More Reports Confirm Carcinogen
in Snack Chips and French Fries
New Research Supports
the Link Between Cooking and Cancer
Latest on Carcinogen in
More on Cancer Chemical
in Cooked Food
The Dangers of Over-Cooking