You care a lot about staying healthy. That’s why you’re trying to get more exercise, drop those extra inches, get enough rest and eat right. But if you are overcooking your food, a chemical toxin you’ve probably never even heard of could be putting you at higher risk for developing some types of cancer.
It’s called acrylamide and it’s ubiquitous in the Western diet. According to the U.S. Grocery Manufacturers Association, acrylamide is found in 40 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chemist Lauren Robin explained that acrylamide is a chemical that forms in some foods — mainly plant-based foods — during high-temperature cooking processes like baking or frying.
Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals so scientists believe it is likely to cause cancer in humans as well. Some recent studies have raise concern.
An 11-year prospective study of post-menopausal Dutch women detected a small, but significantly increased risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, but not breast cancer, associated with intake of acrylamide from food.
A second retrospective study found one significant positive result between hemoglobin markers for acrylamide and estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer.
At certain doses acrylamide is also toxic to the nervous system of animals and humans and may harm fertility, according to the World Health Organization.
Robin says acrylamide has probably been around as long as people have been baking, roasting, toasting or frying foods, but the toxin wasn’t identified in food until 2002.
Get this -- Prior to 2002, the chemical was known primarily for being used in the construction of dam foundations and tunnels or treating wastewater.
Since then, acrylamide has been found in numerous cooked and heat-processed foods in the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
Generally speaking, acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally present in food.