The list of things that may cause cancer is so long, it would be far easier and quicker to have a quick reference list of what's actually OK for us to eat, drink and do.
The latest scaremongering important scientific research comes courtesy of the U.K.'s Food Standards Agency, which has issued a warning about our potato and toast preferences. If you like your roast tatties well done and your toast on the dark side, you may be increasing your risk of cancer.
This is due to the presence of acrylamide, a chemical that is produced naturally when starchy foods (such as bread and potatoes) are cooked at high temperatures. Although the FSA says it is "not a high level of risk," we should stop cooking our potatoes and bread as soon as it reaches a "golden yellow colour" to reduce this risk (and the same goes for other high-starch foods, such as root vegetables, crackers, cereals, biscuits and coffee.)
While acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in animals (once in the body, acrylamide turns into another compound, glycidamide, which can bind to DNA and cause mutations), there is still no conclusive proof that it has the same effect in humans. However, the scientific consensus is that it is safe to assume that it the case.
If you're not happy making your dietary decisions based on assumptions, you might take reassurance from FSA director of policy Steve Wearne, who said, "We’re not saying avoid particular foods or groups of foods but vary your diet so you smooth out your risk. We are not saying to people to worry about the occasional piece of food or meal that’s overcooked. This is about managing risk across your lifetime."
Does this mean we can indulge our burnt toast cravings now and again? We assume so.
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