Acrylamide: Does This Sound Like Something To Eat?

Most people are eating acrylamide daily.  However, only a few are aware that this cancer-causing substance exists.  It is found primarily in cooked foods.  Fortunately, I’ve avoided it, because I am not into cooking a lot.
In 2002, Swedish researchers provoked worldwide concern, when they discovered people were taking in acrylamide through their diets. They found that common foods such as bread, biscuits, pastry, potato chips contained this chemical called acrylamide. It was known to cause tumors in rats and it is a neurotoxin, which seemed likely to be a human carcinogen, too. It is mainly detected in cooked foods. Although, it has been found in dried fruits, such as, dried pears and prunes.

Those women who ingest mostly cooked food in their dietary regime are more than twice as likely to develop womb or ovarian cancer, according to a 11 year Danish study, involving over 62,000 women.
Later research showed that whenever food is fried, roasted, toasted or grilled to turn it a tasty golden brown, acrylamide is also formed. High temperatures (over 250 degrees) are responsible for creating acrylamide, when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked. The worst offenders are potato chips and French fries, two of the most popular vegetable items in the American diet. However, even a “healthy” natural food, like a cooked sweet potato could boost your risk of cancer significantly. Later studies, have found acrylamide in black olives, prune juice, and coffee. Estimates for the proportion of acrylamide in adults’ diet coming from the consumption of coffee range from twenty to forty percent. Prune juice has a high concentration of acrylamide, although adults consume it in far smaller quantities. The FDA has analyzed a variety of U.S. food products for levels of acrylamide since 2002.

Acrylamide forms from a reaction between sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during high temperature cooking. Many foods from coffee and breakfast cereal to bread, contain acrylamide.
In 2003, researchers analyzed the acrylamide levels of some common Swedish foods such as processed potato products, bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cookies, snacks and coffee. They estimated the average daily intake of the chemical to be 31 mcg/day, which they said could be associated with potential health risks according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) data. The federal limit for acrylamide in drinking water is 0.5 parts per billion, or about 0.12 micrograms in an eight ounce glass of water. However, a six ounce serving of French fries can contain 60 micrograms of acrylamide, or about 500 times the allowable limit. Some potato chips contain acrylamide in levels 900 times over the legal limit.

In 2005, the state of California actually sued four well-known potato chip manufacturers for failing to warn California consumers about the potential health risk of acrylamide in their processed food products.
The companies were H. J. Heinz Co., Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods, Inc., and Lance, Inc. On August 1, 2008 they agreed to reduce levels of acrylamide in their products over a three year period and pay a combined
$3 million in fines as a settlement with the California attorney general’s office. California had alleged they had violated a state requirement that companies post a warning label on products with carcinogens.

Once believed to be only an industrial product used in plastics, cosmetics and water treatment facilities; and found in cigarette smoke, it was not until 2002 that researchers found acrylamide in our processed foods. Reactions produced from acrylamide were regularly detected in people who had no known exposure to the chemical, and who had levels approaching 100 mcg – representing a considerable cancer risk – were found in Swedish adults. Looking for a possible source, researchers hypothesized that acrylamide was formed at elevated temperatures in cooking – and they were right.

In The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers noted moderate levels of acrylamide (5-50 mcg/kg) in heated protein-rich food and higher levels (150-4000 mcg/kg) in carbohydrate-rich food. Unheated or boiled foods showed undetectable levels (<5 mcg/kg) of acrylamide, leading researchers to conclude: “Consumption habits indicate that the acrylamide levels in the studied heated foods could lead to a daily intake of a few tens of micrograms.” A 72-hour study of urine from six young healthy volunteers who had consumed a meal containing 0.94 mg of acryl amide concluded that “most of the acrylamide ingested in food is absorbed in humans.”

People need to be made aware that foods are altered by baking them at high temperatures. People can’t assume a food is low in acrylamide , because it hasn’t been fried or charred to a crisp. Baked, is NOT better!According to FDA data, Ore Ida Golden Fries contained 107 parts per billion (ppb) of acrylamide in the regular fried version and a far higher 1,098 ppb, when baked. Frying, baking and broiling appear to be the worst offenders, while boiling or steaming appear to be much safer. I personally advised people to use steaming, when I did my book Sharing from the Heart. If one is going to cook, steaming is the best method. No mention was made regarding microwaves in conjunction with cooking and acrylamide in foods, but microwaves alter the molecules in food; changing them to a form that is not recognized by the human body.

Acrylamide levels have been found to vary greatly among processed foods, even among different batches of the same food item. This toxic chemical has, thus far, only been found in foods heated above 250 F/120 C. However, this happens to include most processed foods. If you want to avoid acrylamide, primarily stick to foods that you are making yourself from scratch and cooking very lightly; or by primarily eating raw foods. It is difficult to eat in a restaurant without getting a large dose of acrylamide; unless you opt for eating fresh salads. If you order a salad, ask for fresh lemon and a little olive oil. Dressings usually contain preservatives and other ingredients that are anything, but healthy..

Animal studiy research has shown that exposure to acrylamide increases the risk of bladder, kidney and prostate cancer, in addition to cancer of the womb or ovarian cancer mentioned previously in this article.
Data from the Netherland Cohort Study on diet and cancer, which included 120,000 adult female and male participants between the ages of 55 and 69, established a dietary cancer risk from acrylamide. Researchers from Maastricht University, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, and the TNO Quality of Life calculated the dietary acrylamide intake of 5,000 random participants, based on food frequency questionnaires filled out when the cohort study began.

The results are presented in the article “Dietary Acrylamide intake and the risk of renal cell, bladder, and prostate cancer” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May 2008, Volume 87, pp. 1428-1438). The researchers were J.G. Hogervorst, L.J. Schouten, E.J. Konings, E.A. Goldbohm, P.A. Van Den Brandt. They found that after 13.3 years, those who had the highest dietary acrylamide intake experienced a 59% higher risk of renal cell carcinoma than those with the lowest intake. Renal cell carcinoma is responsible for more than 80% of kidney cancer cases. Kidney cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the world.. There was a total of 339 cases of kidney cancer, 1,210 cases of bladder cancer, and 2,246 cases of prostate cancer observed among study participants. The researchers did not definitely state there was a connection, between acrylamide intake and cancer of the bladder or prostate in human studies; only in animals.

The highest average acrylamide intake was 40.8 micrograms per day, while the lowest was 9.5 mcg. Average intake was 21.8 mcg per day, or slightly less than the amount found in 2½ oz of French fries. Every ten micrograms increase in daily intake appeared to elevate a person’s risk of kidney cancer by 10 percent. Among smokers, the effect of dietary intake was even stronger.

In earlier research conducted by the same team of scientists, also using data from the Netherlands Cohort Study, dietary acrylamide was found to increase women’s risk of ovarian cancer 78%.
Their risk of endometrial cancer (in the lining of the uterus) by 29 percent. There were statistics which showed that the risk for women who had never smoked; was even greater.

According to Mary McCullough, a nutritional epidemiologist for the American Cancer Society smoking and obesity are other-known risks. Cigarette smoke and herbicides used on crops contain acrylamide.
It is difficult to avoid acrylamide, if you are around people who smoke – and you are eating a standard American diet with foods that have been grown using herbicides. Then, after being processed, foods are usually cooked again at temperatures well over over 175 degrees, before being put on the dining table.

Acrylamide has also been linked to nerve damage and other neurotoxic effects, including neurological problems in workers handling the substance. Yet, the EPA isn’t regulating acryamide in our processed foods.
It set up a standard for the amount of acrylamide in our drinking water, as mentioned previously. It is monitoring residue in materials, which come in contact with our food supply. It would be great if they could start monitoring food products themselves, but this would not make a lot of food producers happy. Most processed foods would have to be removed from the market. It would adversely affect the entire food industry worldwide. It would also affect all those who make a living treating sick people. I note that in some studies that have been done, since 2002; food producers declare there is no risk from acrylamide.. However, health researchers, such as, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Joseph Mercola, James Braly, M.D.. and others – are aware of the disease-causing potential of high temperature heated grains, vegetables, etc.

TIPS –  you could use to avoid acrylamide:

**Steam foods: better than boiling. Spinach can be steamed in just over a minute.

**Shorten your cooking time and stay under 175 degrees.

**Don’t toast bread…pan fry and warm it in a little butter for less than a minute.

**f you eat bread, sour dough is less toxic than any other gluten bread…even sprouted.

**Buy a sour dough bread with as few ingredients as possible.

**Cut down on coffee consumption. Not more than 2 cups daily.

**Avoid dried fruits, as they contain acrylamide and concentrated sugar, too.

**Avoid grains, as they have been processed at high temperatures (and most contain gluten, too.)

**Oatmeal was recommended, but it coats the intestinal tract; preventing osmosis.

European governments permit 10 parts per billion (pbb) of acrylamide in packaged foods, but U.S. standards are more lax. For example, Kellogg’s Rice Crispies contain 110 ppb and Pringles original crisps contain 1,480 ppb. Sugar-coated breakfast cereals have even higher levels than Rice Crispies. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. for years has advised his patients to avoid highly processed breakfast cereals, refined foods and

In addition,  food researchers discovered that you’re far less likely to ingest dangerous levels of acrylamide by simply eating home-cooked meals compared to industrially-processed or restaurant-prepared foods.
By heeding this advice to eat more raw foods and less high temperature cooked foods, you will lower your risk of becoming another cancer statistic Perhaps now you can understand why, one in three people in this country will face cancer during their lifetime. It’s a sad fact most doctors are not privy to information, which will prevent cancer from occurring. It’s a well known fact the majority of medical schools don’t require 1 course in nutrition.

Over the years, I have slowly eliminated many foods, which I dearly loved.  I have found that humans are similar to most other creatures; we primarily need specie-specific foods that were designed for our bodies. Enzyme-rich, living, unprocessed foods are in this category. Cooked processed foods have only been available for a relatively short period of time. If we want health we eat intelligently. If we don’t make the right choices,, we will suffer. If we eat to satisfy our appetite alone, we will pay dearly for neglecting our nutritional requirements. The end result of eating the wrong food is bodily decay and disease. We don’t need as much food as our food “experts” have recommended, but we do need living foods, if we desire to be full of life.

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis

4 thoughts on “Acrylamide: Does This Sound Like Something To Eat?

    1. Barbara Charis Post author

      I appreciate your comment. It took years of research in order to do it. Since I did my last blog, I have been focused on gathering material for another book…and getting into top condition in order to show people… Age is a Matter of Relativity. It is all relative to true knowledge. not erroneous information.

  1. petal

    Thanks for the detailed info. So you would suggest we don’t eat any dried fruits like prunes etc.? Can you share what should we eat which is healthy?

    1. Barbara Charis Post author

      High water content fruits and vegetables offer the highest quality of water…particularly, if the fruits and vegetables are organic. Take a tip from the animals in nature…they are smarter than “civilized” man. What species is mankind mostly like?
      Researchers used rodents to determine what mankind was to eat. Are we similar to rats who can eat raw grain or are we more like primates (like gorillas) who eat fruit and greens. Dehydrated foods don’t have the organic water humans need.


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