High Temperature Cooking Can Increase The Risk Of Cancer


Fried and Baked Carbohydrates Linked To Cancer

WASHINGTON (Sept. 30, 2002) - Scientists have found a clue to the chemical reaction that causes potato chips, french fries and other fried and baked starchy foods (roots like potatoes/beets/carrots, grains like wheat and rice, corn, peas, beans, etc.) to build up high levels of “acrylamide” a cancer-causing substance. “Asparagine” is a naturally occurring amino acid that, when heated with natural sugars such as glucose, forms the life shortening acrylamide carcinogen.


Many natural uncooked foods contain enzymes – proteins made up of amino acids that act as a catalyst and aid in the metabolism of the food, so the body can use it effectively. The higher the temperature used to prepare a food, the more likely that the three dimensional chemical structure of its enzymes will denature and become inactive, ineffective, or a toxic, cancer-causing mutagen.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently made determining how to lower acrylamide levels in food one of its highest research priorities, according to a plan that agency officials discussed today with consumer groups and food manufacturers. As of April 2003, 43 important acrylamide research projects had been registered with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) / World Health Organization (WHO) in the following topical areas: Occurrence in Food (18); Analytical Methodology (11); Mechanisms of formation (12); Exposure assessment (6); Genotoxicity (6); Carcinogenesis (6); Neurotoxicity (4); Biomarkers (3); Oncogenic mechanism (1), Reproductive toxicity (1); Other toxicology (3) – endocrinology (1), epidemiology (1), metabolism (1); Asparagine content (1); Mechanism of action (2); Methods for potential reduction of acrylamide in foods (2), and Acrylamide Literature search (5). With all of this work on the important subject, we hope that public awareness and many important nutrition improvements will take place in the next few years.


In 2002, Canada's government discovered the acrylamide / asparagine chemical reaction and quickly ordered food manufacturers to look for ways to alter it and lower acrylamide levels in foods. Cincinnati-based manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co. says that its scientists have also found the asparagine / acrylamide connection.


These studies provide the first clues to solve the mystery of acrylamide, since Swedish scientists announced in the spring of 2002 that high levels of the carcinogen are in numerous common foods, such as: bread, breakfast cereals, french fries and potato chips – all high-carbohydrate foods that are fried or baked at high temperatures. The cancer is cause not by the natural food, but by how the food is processed. It can be high in cocoa, chocolate, coffee, smoked nuts, peanut butter, dried soups, pop corn, and cereals. Acrylamide was not found in boiled or microwaved foods, which are cooked at much lower temperatures, often for shorter periods of time.


Sweden's findings were confirmed in June 2002 by governments in Norway, Britain and Switzerland. Preliminary testing of several hundred foods by the FDA (below) shows that many American foods contain very high acrylamide levels, said Richard Canady, who is directing the agency's assessment of acryl amide’s risk.


Acrylamide is also used to produce plastics and dyes, and to purify drinking water. Although small traces of it are present in our drinking water and in foods packaged in plastic, no one suspected such high levels of the cancer-causing agent in our basic foods.


Acrylamide consistently causes cancer in test animals. Swedish scientists state that the known levels of acrylamide in food may be directly responsible for many of cases of cancer in Sweden each year (and also in all countries that process their foods in a similar manner).


The U.S. FDA has responded much slower to the 2002 scientific evidence than Sweden, Norway, Britain, Canada and Switzerland. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Carcinogen Report” has long cautioned that “Acrylamide is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” The FDA still fails to advise consumers to alter their eating habits to avoid known high sources of acrylamide, despite the multiple reproducible studies performed by other countries. U.S. government agencies communicate poorly and move very slowly. The DHHS NIH and FDA continue to publish conflicting, inconsistent, contradictory reports and recommendations.


The FDA now has an expensive acrylamide research plan (preliminary partial results reported below), but ”should give the public better advice,” said Michael Jacobsen of the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest. “People should be consuming less french fries and potato chips for other reasons … and the government should have been urging that anyway. Here is yet another reason.”


For now, FDA’s Canady would only restate the obsolete indiscriminate Food Pyramid that created much of our current problem in the first place: “We want to reinforce ... eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. That's the best way to ensure that you're getting adequate nutrition.” He failed to hint that some fruits and vegetables are much better than others, or that how they are prepared can turn them into toxic carcinogens. He failed to mention the concept of Demand-Based Nutrition.


The food industry stresses that while fried potato products are getting most of the bad publicity - most testing so far shows the highest levels in them – cancer-causing acrylamide is in a wide variety of foods and household products. Procter & Gamble said Friday that its testing found high levels of acrylamide in such previously unimplicated foods such as roasted asparagus and banana chips.


“The other aspect people need to look at is while a french fry or a potato chip may be high ... in concentration, it still comes down to what is the total contribution of that food to the diet,” said Henry Chin of the National Food Processors Association. Asparagine is found in many cooked vegetables, Chin noted.


Regardless of the profit-motivated defense of the status quo by food producers (who have billions of dollars at stake), the new asparagine clue is actually encouraging. It should eventually lead to consumer enlightenment, and a reduction in devastating disease caused directly by the way we traditionally prepare our basic foods.


Quick Summary: For now, reducing high glycemic index carbohydrates, especially those that are cooked at high temperatures, may be the most prudent thing for health conscious consumers to do. The prevalent method of frying or baking with hydrogenated trans-fatty acids combines to greatly increase the risk of both cancer AND coronary heart disease. Microwave cooking (at lower temperatures for shorter times) in glass (like Pyrex or Corningware), without saturated fat, or with polyunsaturated fats, is a far superior solution to traditional baking and frying of high-carbohydrate foods.


Maximum Limit of Acrylamide


Following ingestion, acrylamide is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and widely distributed in body fluids. Acrylamide can cross the placenta and damage unborn children. It is neurotoxic, affects germ cells, and impairs reproductive function.


In mutagenicity assays, acrylamide induced gene mutations in mammalian cells and chromosomal aberrations in vitro and in vivo. In a long-term carcinogenicity study in rats exposed via drinking-water, acrylamide induced scrotal, thyroid, and adrenal tumors in males, and mammary (breast), thyroid, and uterine tumors in females. On the basis of the available information, it was concluded that acrylamide is a dangerous genotoxic carcinogen.


How many women suffering the emotional and physical pain of breast cancer understand that eating bread is a suspected risk factor and also one of the FDA’s highest research priorities in 2003?


Environmental protection agencies long ago set maximum limits for acrylamide in drinking water at levels ranging from 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) (European Union), to 0.5 ppb (US EPA), to 1.0 ppb (World Health Organization - WHO). If governments have demanded no more than 1 ppb of carcinogenic acrylamide in our water, how much should be in our basic food, like bread ?




Exploratory Data on Acrylamide in Foods


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration - Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition


December 4, 2002


On April 24, 2002, researchers at the Swedish National Food Administration and Stockholm University reported finding the chemical acrylamide in a variety of fried and oven-baked foods that ranged from an alarming 100 ppb to 3500 ppb.


The initial Swedish research indicates that acrylamide formation is particularly associated with traditional high temperature cooking processes for certain carbohydrate-rich foods. In response to concerns about the potential risk of food-borne acrylamide based on known toxicity of acrylamide at much higher doses than those seen in foods, the FDA began to analyze a variety of U.S. food products for acrylamide. The data presented below are initial and partial results from an ongoing exploratory survey of foods for acrylamide. FDA's action plan and full research agenda are presented at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/pestadd.html#acrylamide. We are presenting this incomplete data set now to inform the public of FDA's progress and to help stimulate research into the formation of acrylamide in foods.


At a public meeting held on September 30, 2002, FDA discussed preliminary findings on acrylamide in a select group of food products to illustrate initial conclusions concerning variability that can be drawn from the early stages in the exploratory survey. Since the public meeting, FDA has continued to study acrylamide in a wide variety of foods, including breads, cereals, and snack foods in an effort to understand the occurrence of this chemical in the U.S. food supply. FDA will continue to investigate how acrylamide is formed in food, seek to identify ways to reduce acrylamide levels, and study the human health risk of consuming acrylamide in foods. FDA is collaborating with other federal public health agencies, international partners, academia, consumers, and the food-processing industry to coordinate efforts related to acrylamide in foods.


The following preliminary data include information that was the basis for the graphs presented at the September 30, 2002, public meeting as well as additional data collected through November 15, 2002.


This is exploratory data and should not be taken to indicate the distribution of acrylamide levels in U.S. foods, or as an indicator of food product choices by consumers.


In relation to the level of sampling that is needed to understand exposure and risk, the data cover a limited number of food categories, a limited number of products in those categories, and a limited number of brands.


The data generally do not address unit-to-unit variation or lot-to-lot variation, which can be significant.


Differences in acrylamide levels between foods or even between brands at this early point in the survey do not necessarily indicate differences in exposure or potential risk that would be experienced by consumers. When estimating exposure and potential risk it is important to consider the amount of the food consumed and the day to day variation in levels, in addition to the level of acrylamide measured at a particular time.


Baked products were baked according to the manufacturers' directions. Toasted products were not cooked in a standardized fashion. Fried products (tortillas) were fried for 1 minute at 155 °C. Some products are intended to be eaten without further cooking (e.g., bread); other products, although precooked by the manufacturer, are intended to be eaten only with further cooking (e.g., chicken pieces and frozen french fries). The graphs presented at the September 30, 2002, public meeting on acrylamide levels in food contain values for products as commonly eaten only, not both uncooked and cooked values.


These preliminary findings indicate ppb acrylamide levels in individual purchased food products.

(The worst are listed first.)


Route 11 Sweet Potato Chips


Lamb Weston Inland Valley Fajita Fries (baked)


Kettle Chips Lightly Salted Natural Gourmet Potato Chips


Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup & Dip Mix


Good Health Natural Foods Honey Dijon Mustard Julienne Potato Stix


Ore Ida Golden Fries (baked)


Baked! Lay's Original Naturally Baked Potato Crisps


Linden Farms French Fries Shoestring Style (baked)


Popeye’s french fries, location 3


Terra Stix


Hershey's Cocoa


Utz Crisp All Natural Potato Chips, lot 1


Snyder's of Hanover Veggie Crisps


Lamb Weston Inland Valley French Fries (baked)


Terra Sweet Potato Chips


Ore Ida Crispers! (baked)


Popeye’s french fries, location 4


Ore Ida Zesties! (baked)


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 10, bag 4


Wasa Original Crispbread Fiber Rye


McDonald's french fries, location 7


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 10, bag 3


Popeye’s french fries, location 2


Herr's Crisp 'N Tasty Potato Chips


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 10, bag 2


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 12, bag 2


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 12, bag 3


Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds


Fuddruckers french fries, location 1


Ore Ida Golden Crinkles (baked)


Richfood French Fried Potatoes (baked)


Utz Crisp All Natural Potato Chips, lot 2


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 12, bag 1


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 10, bag 1


Lay's WOW! Original potato chips


Checkers french fries, location 2


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 5, bag 2


Chick-fil-A french fries


Good Health Natural Foods Olive Oil Potato Chips Plain


Burger King french fries, location 3


Pepperidge Farm Dark Pumpernickel (toasted)


McCain Crinkle Cut french fries (baked)


Folgers Classic Decaf Coffee Crystals (crystals, not brewed)


Fuddruckers french fries, location 2


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 3, bag 1


Sara Lee Plain Mini Bagels (toasted)


Planters Smoked Almonds


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 5, bag 3


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 5, bag 4


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 3, bag 4


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 3, bag 2


Ore Ida Fast Food Fries (baked)


McDonald's french fries, location 2


McDonald's french fries, location 4


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 5, bag 1


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Oct. 29


Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa


KFC french fries, location 1


Herr's Extra Thin Pretzels


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 26, bag 4


Wendy's french fries, location 1


Popeye’s french fries, location 1


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 19, bag 2


Dare Breton Thin Wheat Crackers


Ruffles Original potato chips


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Dec. 3, bag 3


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 19, bag 3


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 19, bag 1


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 26, bag 3


KFC french fries, location 2


McDonald's french fries, location 6


Ruffles WOW! Original potato chips


General Mills Cheerios


Maxwell House Instant Coffee (powder, not brewed)


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 26, bag 2


Wendy's french fries, location 4


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 19, bag 4


Checkers french fries, location 1


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Nov. 26, bag 1


Ore Ida Tater Tots (baked)


Wendy's french fries, location 3


Arby's french fries


Lay's Classic Potato Chips, code date Oct. 15


Planters Salted Almonds


McDonald's french fries, location 5


Blue Diamond Roasted Salted Almonds


Burger King french fries, location 2


Ore Ida Crispers! (not baked)


Pepperidge Farm Original White Bread (toasted)


Lamb Weston Inland Valley French Fries (not baked)


Maxwell House Slow Roast (ground, not brewed)


Lamb Weston Inland Valley Fajita Fries (not baked)


Ore Ida Tater Tots (not baked)


Nabisco Chocolate Teddy Grahams


Lay's Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ Flavored Potato Chips


Wavy Lay's Original Potato Chips


Burger King french fries, location 1


McDonald's french fries, location 1


Super G Instant Coffee (powdered, not brewed)


Streit's Lightly Salted Matzos


Super G Microwave Popping Corn (popped)


Medaglia D'Oro Caffe' Espresso Coffee (ground, not brewed)


General Mills Lucky Charms


Starbucks Coffee Columbia Ground (ground, not brewed)


Wendy's french fries, location 5


KFC french fries, location 3


Wendy's french fries, location 2


Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn Movie Theater Butter (popped)


Kellogg's Raisin Bran


McDonald's french fries, location 3


Colgin Natural Pecan Liquid Smoke


Grandma Utz's Handcooked Potato Chips


General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios


Nissin Cup Noodles Chicken Flavor


Super G Cheddar Cheese Corn Twists


Gerber Finger Foods Biter Biscuits


Keebler Town House Crackers Reduced Fat


Indian flat bread (from local restaurant)


Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter


Gerber Tender Harvest Organic Sweet Potatoes (lot 2)


Ore Ida Golden Twirls (baked)


KFC french fries, location 4


Utz's Home Style Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips


Herr's Bite Size Dippers Tortilla Chips


Boca Burgers Grilled Vegetable burgers (baked)


Arrowhead Mills Crunchy Peanut Butter


Nabisco Arrowroot Biscuit (baby food)


Utz White Corn Tortillas


Ore Ida Golden Fries (not baked)


Stella D'Oro Anisette Toast Cookies


Baker's Bittersweet Baking Chocolate Squares


Nabisco Chips Ahoy! Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar


Super G Onion Recipe Soup Mix


Peter Pan Plus Creamy Peanut Butter


B&M Original Brick Oven Baked Beans


Ore Ida Fast Food Fries (not baked)


Richfood Creamy Peanut Butter


Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats


Kellogg's Corn Flakes


Beech Nut Stage 2 Vegetables & Chicken


Ore Ida Golden Crinkles (not baked)


Kellogg's Corn Pops


Linden Farms French Fries Shoestring Style (not baked)


Utz Unsalted Sourdough Specials


B&M Vegetarian 99% Fat Free Brick Oven Baked Beans


Gerber 2nd Foods Sweet Potatoes


Ore Ida Zesties! (not baked)


Jif Creamy Peanut Butter


Gerber Tender Harvest Organic Sweet Potatoes (lot 1)


General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch


Gerber Graduates for Toddlers Animal Crackers


Pepperidge Farm Natural Whole Grain Whole Wheat (toasted)


Boca Burgers Grilled Vegetable burgers (not baked)


Sara Lee Plain Mini Bagels (not toasted)


Hershey's European Style Dutch Processed Cocoa


Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bagels (toasted)


Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish


Colgin Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke


Kellogg's Frosted Flakes


Maruchan Instant Lunch Ramen Noodles with Vegetables Chicken Flavor


McCain Crinkle Cut french fries (not baked)


Kellogg's Rice Krispies


Nestle Nesquik Chocolate Flavor


Carnation Malted Milk Original


Super G Bread Crumbs Regular Style


Super G Unsalted Tops Crackers


Gerber 2nd Foods Carrots & Sweet Peas


Contadina Bread Crumbs Three Cheese


Stubb's Mesquite Liquid Smoke


Beech Nut Stage 2 Tender Golden Sweet Potatoes


Pepperidge Farm Original White Bread (not toasted)


Archway Oatmeal Cookies


Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips (baked)


Pepperidge Farm Dark Pump Pumpernickel (not toasted)


Lipton Asian Side Dishes Teriyaki Noodles


Boboli Italian Pizza Crust (not baked)


Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips (not baked)


Gerber 2nd Foods Vegetable Chicken Dinner


Gorton's Tenders Extra Crunchy fish fillets (baked)


Super G Dry Roasted Peanuts Unsalted


Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bagels (not toasted)


Gerber 2nd Foods Green Beans


Red Oval Farms Mini Stoned Wheat Thins


Gorton's Tenders Extra Crunchy fish fillets (not baked)


Libby's Pumpkin


Shoppers Food Warehouse Cake Doughnut


Boboli Italian Pizza Crust (baked)


Super G Hot Cocoa Mix Milk Chocolate Flavor


Beech Nut Stage 2 Butternut Squash


Checkers Chicken Pieces


Knorr Taste Breaks Soup Chicken Noodle Flavor


Richfood French Fried Potatoes (not baked)


Gerber Finger Foods Fruit Wagon Wheels


Nabisco Zwieback Toast (baby food)


Ore Ida Golden Twirls (not baked)


Beech Nut Stage 2 Carrots & Peas


Gen Soy Zesty Barbeque Soy Crisps


Super G Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling


Lipton Noodles & Sauce Creamy Chicken


La Banderita Flour Tortillas (fried)


Jell-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling


Shoppers Food Warehouse Plain Doughnut


Mrs. Paul's Crispy Fish Fillets (not baked)


La Banderita Corn Tortillas (fried)


Fuddruckers Onion Rings


Mrs. Paul's Crispy Fish Fillets (baked)


Chifles Fried Pork Rinds Smokehouse Flavored


Super G Macaroni & Cheese Dinner


Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner


Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk


La Banderita Corn Tortillas (not fried)






High Temperature Cooking Of Meat Linked To Cancer


Meats cooked above 360 degrees Fahrenheit have previously been shown to produce high levels of “heterocyclic amines” – a class of related toxic carcinogenic chemicals that are formed by cooking muscle meats such as beef, pork, fish and fowl. Research conducted by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and by Japanese and European medical research scientists, has shown that there are 17 different heterocyclic amines (HCAs) resulting from the high temperature cooking of muscle meats that pose the risk of various human cancers.


Recent studies have further investigated the relationship between the method of cooking meat and the development of specific types of cancer. One study conducted by NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics found a strong link between individuals with stomach cancer and the consumption of cooked meats. They found that those who ate their beef medium-well or well-done had more than three times the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate their beef rare or medium-rare. They also found that people who ate beef four or more times a week had more than twice the risk of stomach cancer than those consuming beef less frequently. Other studies have shown that an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer associated with intakes of well-done, fried, grilled or barbequed meats.


Four factors influence HCA formation: (1) type of food, (2) cooking method, (3) temperature, and (4) time (thinner meats cook faster and may have fewer HCAs).


HCAs are commonly found in cooked muscle meats. Other sources of protein (milk, eggs, tofu, and organ meats) have very little HCA content naturally or when cooked. Temperature is the most important factor in the formation of HCAs. Frying (in a pan or in deep fat), broiling, grilling, and barbecuing produce the largest amounts of HCAs, because the meats are cooked at very high temperatures.


One important study showed a threefold increase in the content of HCAs when the cooking temperature was increased from 392 degrees Fahrenheit  to 482 degrees. Oven roasting and baking below 350 degrees F produce lower levels of HCAs. However, gravy made from meat drippings (such as baked turkey) contains substantial amounts of HCAs. Stewing, boiling, and poaching are done at-or-below the boiling point of water (212 F). Cooking at low temperature creates negligible amounts of the chemicals. Foods cooked for a long time ("well-done" instead of "medium") by other methods will form more HCAs and increase the risk of cancer.


Meats that are fully or partially cooked in a microwave oven have much lower levels of HCAs. Studies have shown that microwaving meat prior to cooking helps decrease these organic mutagens by avoiding the production of precursors. Meats that were microwaved for 2 minutes prior to cooking had a 90-percent decrease in HCA content. If the liquid that forms during microwaving is poured off before further cooking, the final quantity of HCAs is reduced.


Studies are still being conducted to assess the amount of HCAs in the average American diet, but at present, a guideline for the maximum daily intake of HCAs in food has not been established. No U.S. Federal agency monitors the HCA content of cooked meats. There is no attempt to measure how much HCAs increase cancer risk, and there are not even any U.S. warnings about consumption of foods that are known to have high levels of the well-documented cancer causing agent, despite many pleas from consumer advocate groups.


Daily intake of significant amounts of cruciferous vegetables (like brussels sprouts and broccoli) have been shown to partially reduce the risk of cancer caused by HCA’s, but the best solution is to avoid intake of harmful HCAs in the first place.


Adding textured vegetable protein (TVP / soybean protein) to ground meat blocks the formation of 95 percent of HCAs. John Weisburger at the American Health Foundation created a burger using 10 percent soy protein and 90 percent ground beef. When cooked, the burger contained only 5 percent of the normal HCAs. You can mix soy protein into burgers made from any type of ground meat -- beef, pork, veal, lamb or turkey. There is minimal difference in taste or texture. Soy protein is a low-cost high-protein meal stretcher with many health benefits.


Studies have shown that chemicals in tea block the formation of HCAs as well as carcinogenic “nitrosamines.” Tea also reduces the absorption of iron, which is important for many older men and post-menopausal women.


Chemicals in garlic also inhibit the creation of HCAs. For tea and garlic to work, you must consume them with the meat.


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons - Don't eat the black stuff


The tasty black char lines on grilled meat contain cancer-causing chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. Our ancient ancestors (who only ate raw meat) were not exposed to modern levels of HCAs or PAHs.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are the result of direct contact with flames, hot metal grills or high temperature barbeque smoke. PAHs cause high temperature molecular chemical changes in the condensate and fat drippings that form on the surface of meat.


Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. Acrylamides, HCAs and PAHs can cause heart damage.


PAHs increase with temperature and time of cooking (like acrylamides and HCAs). The more of these substances that you consume, the higher the risk of cancer. One large survey found that colon cancer patients were twice as apt to eat meat well-done. Rare or medium rare meat reduce the risk of colon cancer, compared to medium or well done meat. In a Norwegian study, men who ate the most processed meat, notably sausage, had the highest rate of colon cancer.


Cancer is the number two killer of Americans. After smoking, the number two type of adult cancer is colon cancer, which is directly linked to acrylamides, HCAs and PAHs – all the result of high-temperature cooking. They are also statistically linked by epidemiological studies to an increased risk of breast and pancreatic cancers.


You should avoid high temperature cooking altogether, or precook muscle meats in a microwave to minimize grilling exposure. Raw meat often contains viruses and harmful bacteria (like dangerous E. coli). They are killed at an internal temperature of only 160 degrees Fahrenheit (where juices turn from red to yellow/tan). Direct exposure to flames or hot grills is NOT necessary or healthy, since it creates chemicals that are known to cause dangerous DNA mutations.


You should carefully scrape the black polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons off of the surface of grilled meat. Do not eat the charred skin of barbecued meat, poultry or fish.




Many cured meats like bacon, hot dogs, ham, lunch meats, sausage and salt pork contain “sodium nitrite”, which during high temperature cooking, and in the stomach, combines with other chemicals (amines) to form dangerous “nitrosamines” - a potent family of documented carcinogens. Sodium nitrate is an effective preservative that prevents deadly botulism, etc. There is no inexpensive substitute for sodium nitrate.


According to the University of California “Guide to Everyday Pollution Hazards”: approximately 700 tons of nitrites are added to the 4 million tons of cured meats and cured fish consumed in the United States each year. The hazard is clearly pervasive.


Nitrosamines are statistically linked in particular to forms of stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, brain cancer and leukemia. Accidents are the number one killer of American children and cancer is the number two child killer. Leukemia is the primary type of cancer in children.


In Los Angeles County a careful study (John M. Peters, et.al. "Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia", Cancer Causes and Control) was made of the dietary habits of 232 young leukemia patients and their parents. For seven years these children had been newly diagnosed from birth up to ten years of age. An equal number of normal children were matched to the patients by sex, ethnicity and approximately by age and the location of their homes. The researchers had a detailed interview usually with both parents including "information on the location and temporal pattern of the children's activity, history of appliance use, and exposure to environmental chemicals, recreational drugs, and incense.


The results showed that when children ate more than twelve hot dogs per month the risk for childhood leukemia was increased almost six times.


We should restrict the consumption of nitrite-preserved cured meats such as bacon, hot dogs and cold cuts.


Nitrates are converted to dangerous nitrosamines during cooking and in the stomach (in the presence of amines and hydrochloric acid).


Bacon that is cooked in a microwave has less nitrosamines that crisp fried bacon. Grilled hot dogs have higher cancer causing nitrosamines, HCAs and PAHs than boiled or microwaved hot dogs.


Nitrates are also converted to dangerous nitrosamines in the stomach in the presence of amines and strong hydrochloric acid. Antioxidants (like vitamin C in some fruits and vegetables) reduce the stomach-produced nitrosamines.


We should eat lots of fruits and vegetables for antioxidants that block the formation of nitrosamines, at the same time foods with nitrates are consumed, which is NOT the way most people consume hot dogs, etc. Fruit with a small amount of microwaved-and-drained bacon or ham may be much healthier than hot dogs with french fries (which are loaded with cancer-causing acrylamides, HCAs, PAHs and nitrosamines).


This information is especially important for children and women who are, or may become, pregnant or nurse their children. It is also important for older people, those with a family history of cancer, or anyone with a compromised immune system.


Trans Fatty Acids


When healthy polyunsaturated vegetable oils are exposed to high temperatures (above 320 degrees Fahrenheit) or they are exposed to hydrogen gas during refining processes, cooking, deep-fat frying, etc. the oil changes into an unnatural “trans fatty acid” form, and becomes solid at room temperature.


Trans fats are the number one cause of heart disease, which is the number one cause of the death of Americans. The elimination of all trans fats should be the number one health priority for America.


Trans fats increase bad cholesterol and lower good (heart disease fighting) cholesterol. Bad cholesterol clogs arteries, increases obesity, accelerates aging and causes deadly heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. The additional adverse effects of trans fats may be due to the fact that they significantly raise “triglycerides”, compared to other types of fats. Unnatural trans fats have other uniquely-adverse metabolic impacts that are still being investigated, including a possible link to breast cancer.


On average, Americans consume about 100 pounds of dangerous trans fats per year. Some health and nutrition experts feel that the total elimination of trans fat consumption should be the most important single priority to improve American health.


There are high levels of trans fats in most margarines, shortenings, fast foods, convenience foods, fried foods and many common bakery goods, like bread, cookies, pies, pizza and cakes. Trans fats are about three times worse than saturated fats in relation to increasing the risk of heart disease. Eating a stick of butter could be much better than eating all of the trans fats in popular children’s’ fast food. Butter is a natural food that is acceptable in limited quantities, but trans fats (like margarine and those used in many fried and baked foods) should be avoided altogether.


One of the latest reported studies on trans fats was made on a group of 667 elderly men. Researchers did careful diet analysis on individuals and then followed them for 10 years to evaluate health outcomes. They divided the group, based on their intake of trans fatty acids, into three equal size groups. The first group had the lowest intake of trans fats. The last group had the highest intake, and the middle group included those in between. Setting the first group’s risk to 1.0, the middle group had a 34% increased risk of heart disease. The group with the highest intake of trans fats had a 100% increased risk (twice the risk).


A small 2% increase in trans fat intake resulted in a 28% increase in heart disease and a 34% increase in mortality from heart disease. This increased risk remains even after adjusting for other possible confounding variables: age, body mass index, smoking, use of vitamins, alcohol, specific types of fat in the diet, dietary cholesterol, and dietary fiber. Previous studies found similar results:


  Health Professional Follow-up Study, 43,757 men  13% increased risk


  Alpha-Tocopherol Cancer Prevention Study, 21,930 men  15% increased risk


  Nurse’s Health Study, 80,082 women, 62% increased risk


When the data was pooled for the statistically significant 146,436 persons in all four of these large studies, a 2% increase in calories from trans fatty acids resulted in a 25% increase in risk of heart disease.


It is remarkable to realize that such a small change in the diet could potentially cut our nation’s leading cause of death by 25%!


To reduce your intake of trans fatty acids, avoid typical snack foods, fast foods, deep-fried foods (fries, chips, doughnuts, etc.), convenience foods with added fat, margarine and shortening, and most baked goods (including commercial breads, cookies, cake, and pie crust).


Look on food labels for “partially hydrogenated”. If present, the food contains dangerous trans fatty acids. Understand that if you cook with some healthy vegetable oils, you can inadvertently produce trans fatty acids if you cook above 300 degrees.


If you reduce your intake of trans fats by only 2% of calories per day, you may reduce your risk of heart disease by 25% or more. The Nurse’s Health Study showed a higher risk reduction of 61% for women.


If you want to live a long, happy, healthy life,


and significantly reduce consumption of

acrylamides, HCAs, PAHs and nitrites



Consider how many people died from lung cancer before U.S. legislators took any action to inform consumers about the well-documented habit-forming relationship between smoking and cancer, and much longer to do anything about reducing its impact on millions of citizens. California has banned smoking in all public places, but to this day, most states still allow those who sell well-known cancer-causing and toxic products to damage the bodies, minds and lifestyle habits of their children.


Compared to smokers, how many more people are eating bread, cereal, hamburgers, grilled steaks, french fries, potato chips, trans fats, etc. without understanding the direct health risks? Humans have always been very poor at learning lessons about lifestyle choices and habits that take more than a decade to have a serious impact on their well-being. Concerned people, especially those with a family history of cancer, cannot afford to wait until biased politicians take meaningful action on such matters.


Informed individuals can reduce their exposure to the devastating impact of some known carcinogens (like acrylamide, HCAs, PAHs and nitrosamines) by merely lowering the temperature and time used for cooking. Even if you do not have an elevated genetic risk of cancer, this is a prudent, easy, lifestyle change to implement.


In order to eliminate food borne viruses and bacteria (like E. coli, found especially in ground meats), the product needs to reach an internal temperature of only 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below the point where many cancer-causing mutagens are formed. Boiling is safe, but many of the desirable nutrients and flavors are diluted, rinsed out and poured down the drain.


January 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly morbidity and mortality report said salmonella enteritidis infections jumped 50 percent in southeastern states in 2001 compared to the previous year.  "The nature of these sorts of epidemics is that we may see increases in certain areas and decreases in others at different times," said Srikantiah, who nevertheless noted that efforts to monitor and prevent the bacteria needed to be strengthened.


The CDC study found that a disproportionate number of the salmonella infections and deaths in the nation occurred among people living in institutions, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and prisons. The CDC said it was important that producers refrigerate eggs during storage and transportation and that retailers and consumers buy eggs from farms with salmonella control programs recognized by a state agency or poultry association. The CDC advised that eggs should not be eaten unless they were pasteurized and cooked until both the white and yolk were firm. Eggs should be eaten promptly and not kept warm for more than two hours.


Microwave cooking for minimum periods of time in inert glass containers (Pyrex, Corningware, etc.) is one of the safest and most nutritious (and flavorful) ways to prepare a wide variety of foods that should be cooked before eating. Do not eat or cook with trans fats. Be cautious when eating out.


See Antiaging Antioxidants – Essential Foods That Protect Against Cancer


See Reduce The Risk Of Cancer


See NIH DHHS – 228 Cancer Causing Agents


See Different Types Of Fats


Return To Joyful Aging Home Page