In 2007, a study made at the University of Maastricht has found that a common chemical called acrylamide caused by frying, roasting or grilling – under any traditional system – a food substance can double the risk of cancer in women.
The study, which enrolled 120,000 people – half of whom were women, established a direct association between consumption of the chemical and the incidence of ovarian and womb cancer.
It also revealed that the chemical is found in cooked foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, coffee and meat and potatoes which had been fried, baked, roasted, grilled or barbecued.
The Dutch study discovered that women who had more acrylamide were twice as likely to develop ovarian or womb cancer as those who ingested a smaller amount. The higher amount eaten by the women involved was the equivalent to a single packet of crisps, half a pack of biscuits, or a portion of chips a day.
The European Union (EU) has now suggested people to avoid eating burnt toast or golden brown chips because they contain higher levels of the substance acrylamide. They have also advised eating home-cooked meals, which contain much lower amounts of the chemical than processed products, fast food and restaurant meals.
The study supports the Food Standards Agency advice and policy, which already assumes that acrylamide has the potential to be a human carcinogen. Since acrylamide forms naturally in a wide variety of cooked foods, it is very difficult to have a healthy balanced diet that avoids it.
Quartiles of daily dietary acrylamide dose and risk of cancer of the (A) large bowel, (B) bladder and (C) kidney.
– Food Standards Agency
– British Journal of cancer