Burnt Toast and Roasted Potatoes: A Potential Cancer Cause?
In an interesting development, the Food Standards Agency in the U.K. has now warned citizens from eating overcooked starchy foods like burnt toast and over roasted potatoes.
Studies from 2002 point out that eating these foods can increase the probability of cancer, and while no conclusive studies determine a link, it’s serious enough for you to have a look at.
While smoking and obesity remain potential cancer causes, it’s the compound acrylamide in these overcooked starchy foods that seem to be the culprit.
Acrylamide, formed from simple sugars reacting with amino acids like asparagine, helps your cooked bread and potatoes turn golden, and eventually brown and black.
The longer you cook these starchy foods, the more levels of acrylamide are created, and according to the FSA campaign, increases your chances of cancer too.
How Worried Should You Be?
While you might believe that it is safe to overcook bread and potatoes since no direct link exists between cancer in human beings and the compound, you’re probably going wrong.
Here is why.
It is impossible to expose people to acrylamide to test if they develop cancer, posing a strategic difficulty. Studies carried out on rodents came to the conclusion that acrylamide exposure could lead to different types of cancers. It was even found out to be a potential factor for increase in breast cancer among women.
If it’s proved to be carcinogenic in animals there is no reason why it shouldn’t be in humans as well. And that’s why you need to be careful when having roasted potatoes you love.
So, what can you do?
For one, you shouldn’t cook these starchy foods at high temperatures for a long time. Do not wait to let your cooked bread, for instance, turn to black. Instead, it’s time to eat them as soon as you seem them turning yellow.
Also, it is a good idea to not keep potatoes in your fridge before cooking them, as this increases the acrylamide levels during cooking. You would be better off avoiding overcooking food and eating a balanced diet.
The problem is that people are often unaware of the risks posed by overcooking starchy foods. The fact that people can mitigate the chances of cancer by following some simple steps is what’s more important. People can take in their daily intake of starchy carbohydrates and vegetables without pumping in more acrylamide into the body.
How do you cook your food then?
Don’t worry. Boiling your food the normal way doesn’t lead to any risk, as acrylamide doesn’t form.
The findings do not mean that you should leave your favourite roasted stuff; all you need to do is to roast them less. Efforts are already underway to develop new forms of potatoes that have reduced sugar levels. This will, in turn, create less acrlamide and stop the chances of cancer.
While acrylamide is indeed one of the potential sources of cancer, experts all agree that the bigger causes are lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol use and obesity.