World of Acrylamide and Cancer

Several kinds of starchy foods can spontaneously produce acrylamide; those that have more of it are French fries, potato chips etc.

World of Acrylamide and Cancer

Acrylamide has a low molecular weight, is soluble in water, and is made up of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. In the form of polyacrylamide, which is used as an adhesive, a soil stabilizer, in lab gels, and as a byproduct of foods that have been heated, it is used in many different industries. Environmental and occupational pollutants include acrylamide.

In order to assure consumption of plant-based foods rich in phytoconstituents, which help avoid dangerous diseases like cancer, research should be done. As the number of people with chronic diseases rises, people are paying more attention to what they eat.

Numerous processing facilities nearby produce a lot of chemicals that are harmful to our health. According to the WHO, around 100,000 chemical compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, amino dyes, and alkenes, are released from various sectors each year. Cancer can be caused by their exposure to a variety of commodities and food products.

It can develop during the Millard reaction, particularly when asparagine- and glucose-containing foods are processed. Many processed potato foods, like bread, cereal, biscuits, cookies, snacks, and coffee, have been found to have acrylamide residues in different amounts.

The American Cancer Society says that acrylamide is a chemical that is used in paper and pulp, construction, foundries, oil drilling, textiles, cosmetics, food processing, plastics, mining, and agriculture. It is also used to make paper, paint, and plastics, as well as to clean drinking water and wastewater. 

There are small amounts of acrylamide in many consumer goods, such as caulk, food packaging, and some adhesives. It can be found in cigarette smoke as well. After being heated at high temperatures, several kinds of starchy foods can spontaneously produce acrylamide through chemical processes. Some foods that have more of it are French fries, potato chips, grain-based foods (like breakfast cereal, cookies, and toast), coffee, and foods made from grains. Most of the time, the American Cancer Society does not figure out if a substance causes cancer (i.e., if it is a carcinogen), but we do ask other reputable organizations for help in this area. Some of these groups have determined the following things in light of recent research:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies acrylamide as a “probable human carcinogen.” The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) has said that it “is likely to cause cancer in humans.” It is “likely to cause cancer in humans,” according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here are some ways to reduce exposure to acrylamide in foods, according to the FDA: 

  • Restrict consumption of foods that may be high in acrylamide, such as foods made of wheat, coffee, and potato goods (particularly French fries and potato chips) (such as breakfast cereals, cookies, and toast).
  • Limit the use of specific cooking techniques, such as frying and roasting, and the amount of time that specific meals are cooked. Acrylamide is not produced by boiling or steaming.
  • To lessen the development of acrylamide during cooking, soak raw potato slices in water for 15 to 30 minutes before the frying or roasting. (To avoid splattering or flames, soaked potatoes should be rinsed and wiped dry before cooking.)
  • To reduce the amount of acrylamide produced while frying potatoes or toasting bread, heat them to a lighter color rather than a deep brown.
  • Avoid storing potatoes in the refrigerator, which can result in increased acrylamide levels during cooking. 

Acrylamide in drinking water is subject to EPA regulation in the United States. The EPA established a safe limit of exposure to acrylamide that was low enough to take into consideration any ambiguities in the research linking acrylamide to cancer and neurotoxic consequences. Although there are currently no regulations controlling the presence of acrylamide in food itself, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the amount of residual acrylamide in a variety of materials that come into contact with food.

In order to inform FDA actions and safeguard public health, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) of the FDA tracks contamination levels in food, including acrylamide.

By Parkash Meghwar

Food Technologist & Young ResearcherM.Phil Scholar at Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Karachi, Pakistan.