Can Residual Acrylamide In Food Cause Cancer?

Updated on December 15, 2021

When you sit to have a meal, like some coffee and cookies, you also have acrylamide. This substance sounds like it helps to make acrylic plastics, and it is. It is a known fact, since about 2002, that small amounts of a chemical called acrylamide exist in a variety of foods like coffee, cookies, and potato chips. Residual acrylamide is present anywhere there is some sugar, glucose, together with Aspergene, and amino acid.

The chemical forms through a series of reactions called the Maillard reactions. When you feed this to test animals in high doses, they develop cancer, and anytime that happens, it brings suspicion to the chemical. With cancer becoming a leading cause of death, further studies are ongoing to uncover more info about this substance.

Researchers wonder whether or not it may be a problem even in smaller doses over a longer time in humans. There is extensive research on the residual solvent analysis of acrylamide in pedagogical studies, where scientists look at cancer cases and overall food intake to see whether or not there is any connection.

While the jury is somewhat out, most studies do not find a relationship between the amount of acrylamide to which humans are exposed and cancer. Nevertheless, there is a movement to cut down on the amount of acrylamide in the food supply, and there are several ways to do that.

It is possible to use an enzyme called asparaginase and mix that with the potentially problematic food. This enzyme breaks down aspergene, the amino acid. Therefore the amino acid will not be there to react with the glucose.

Can genetic modifications to field crops reduce the amount of residual acrylamide in them?

There is also another exciting possibility that researchers are exploring: to genetically modify specific field crops, like potatoes, so that they do not produce as much acrylamide. Furthermore, those potatoes do not develop the black spots that producers have concerns about. When you drop or bruise a potato, it tends to get black, and then it becomes commercially nonviable. The new genetic modifications on potatoes, which have not yet obtained approval, will produce less acrylamide and fewer so-called black spots.

Why are most people concerned about genetic modifications on food crops?

You have to appreciate that while their biotechnology is involved, there are no outside genes that scientists insert into the potato. It is different kinds of potatoes that scientists mix, at least genetically. So while it is a laboratory technique, there are no other species involved other than a potato. Still, there is some level of genetic modification, which some people are concerned about. Fortunately, before it is approved, it will have to undergo tests.

What should you do at home to reduce residual acrylamide consumption?

Although there is no concrete evidence linking acrylamide to cancer, there is still a need to reduce the consumption of this substance. Because genetic modifications are yet to pass the approval stage, consumers should follow specific home guidelines that can help minimize residual acrylamide consumption.

If you drink coffee in moderate amounts, it is not a problem. When baking, the vital thing to look at is the color; the darker it is, the more likely the food is to have some acrylamide. Depending on the extent of frying, you can get a light or a darker color. The darker color is the one that will have more acrylamide. So stick to the more golden color. The same thing goes for toast. 

You will always form some acrylamide if you make toast spread, but you do not get much if you toast it lightly. If you toast it darker, you get significantly more acrylamide. So the idea here is to follow the golden rule that it is not to toast extensively. Try not to get the dark color when you are frying. Of course, you should limit the frying because of the high-fat content.

You should be eating more fruits and vegetables than fried foods, but if you are going to fry, at least do your best to stick to the light rather than the dark. It is crucial to conduct thorough research on residual solvents to better appreciate the benefits of reducing consumption of these substances like acrylamide on health.

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