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Chemical in Starchy Foods, Coffee, and Baby Food May be Linked to Cancer


Posted on Jul 03, 2014

Evidence suggests that a chemical in coffee, french fries and baby food may be linked to cancer.

The research isn’t conclusive, but it shows that a type of chemical found in starchy foods cooked at high temperatures could promote the growth of cancer cells.

The crispy brown crust that forms on French fries or toast, is hot spots for a chemical called acrylamide.

Acrylamide forms when the sugars and amino acids found naturally in foods like potatoes and cereal grains are cooked at temperatures above 150 degrees.

The same chemical is present in cookies, crackers, coffee and some baby food that contains processed bran.

According to a new report from the European Food Safety Authority, it’s a public health concern.

Scientists claim that lab studies involving animals have shown that diets loaded with acrylamide can cause DNA mutations that increase the risk of tumor growth and the spread of cancer cells.

Unfortunately, studies involving people have produced limited and inconsistent evidence regarding evidence between acrylamide and cancer.

People exposed to the chemical in an industrial setting have suffered from nervous system issues, which have little to do with diet. One of the scientists who helped draft the EFSA report, thinks this is due to skin exposure to high levels of acrylamide, not food consumption.

For now, the scientists make no diet recommendations, and that more research is necessary.

For example, the EFSA’s coffee research only analyzes acrylamide content and does not take into account all the other possibly beneficial chemicals and compounds found in a “cup of joe.”

Despite all the unknowns, the ACS recommends boiling potatoes rather than roasting or frying which results in less acrylamide formation.  They also suggest lightly toasting bread. Finally they recommend choosing darker coffee roasts because it may lower exposure.

 

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