Cancer risk: How dangerous is our food?

Food Standard Agency has informed the possible cancer risk caused by eating acrylamide containing foods. Acrylamide can bind to our DNA, cause mutation and lead to cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, evidence from animal studies has shown that acrylamide in food could be a potential risk to cancer, but the results have been mixed or inadequate in human studies,”

Acrylamide is formed when starchy foods heated at temperatures over 120° C or for a longer period of time. During cooking, the sugars and amino acids in starchy foods react together by a process called Maillard reaction. So the browner the starchy food, the more acrylamide it has.

FSA has started ‘Go for Gold’ campaign to encourage people to cook starchy foods like potatoes and toasts only until lightly brown or golden in colour. Cooking methods such as frying, roasting, toasting, baking and broiling can increase the acrylamide levels in starchy foods. Hence boiling or steaming is found to be the safest methods to cook these kinds of foods. Acrylamide levels are generally high in processed foods like crisps, biscuits, cereal, chips, cake, coffee, baby food, bread etc.

Top brands with high acrylamide level 

How can we reduce the risk?

Eating a healthy balanced diet based on whole grains with proteins, vegetables and fruits.

Stopping smoking which is the largest cause of cancer could help reduce the risk.

Avoid eating loads of processed food and red meat.

Keeping a healthy weight and reducing alcohol intake.

Don’t refrigerate raw potatoes as it may lead to the formation of more sugars; hence may lead to the formation of more acrylamide while cooking at high temperature. Store them in a cool dark place above 6° C. Freezing doesn’t seem to affect the sugar content in potatoes though.

Always read the cooking instructions on the package and follow them correctly as longer cooking time may lead to the formation of more acrylamide.

‘Go for gold’ while cooking and toasting to reduce the risk.

Soaking potato slices in water for 30 minutes before frying or baking reduces the level of acrylamide.









Nutritionist Reading, Berkshire
Contact: Nutriadvice, The Therapy Centre, 6B Church Street, Reading Berkshire RG12SB.
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