Acrylamide and Potato Chips

In researching other interesting topics for my readers, I stumbled upon something that was truly shocking to me, considering how much of these foods I have consumed over the years, in an article written by a source unknown to me. So, I dug deeper, turning to trustworthy information from authority sites, and even Health Canada. My all-time favorite snack happens to be potato chips, and I have been known to eat family size bags of chips within a couple of nights, while watching TV, and which happens to be loaded with acrylamide–known to cause CANCER!!! I had never heard of this ever before, but I am certainly rethinking my snack choices, and those of my children.

Potato Chips

What is Acrylamide?

For starters, it’s not something added to foods, which is something I wanted to clarify before people start throwing “conspiracy theory” into the equation. Instead, it forms naturally in some foods, NOT all foods. Primarily, it occurs in carbohydrate-rich foods, that are also low in protein. And, it only forms when the food is cooked at extreme temperatures. I’m ashamed to say that the studies findings,  by the Swedish National Food Authority were published in 2002, claiming that acrylamide causes cancer.  I’m a little late with the news, but better late than never.

Foods That Contain the Most Acrylamide

According to Health Canada studies, acrylamide is high or wide-ranging in concentration is any foods cooked or baked at high temperatures, and especially in potato chips and french fries, which top the list. Other foods include cookies, bread, coffee, roasted almonds, and more. Lower levels of acrylamide are found in soft breads and cereals, but not present at all in boiled potatoes, because the cooking temperature is not high enough to cause the formation of this dangerous naturally forming and occurring chemical.

How Acrylamide Forms in Foods

Mostly it forms when a natural amino acid naturally reacts with glucose, or other sugars, but only at high temperatures. That said, the temperature varies depending on the particular food and the cooking method used. Health Canada’s findings were published in 2003.

Can Your Favorite Foods Kill You?

Even the World Health Organization sees acrylamide as a potential concern. Unfortunately, neither group can determine what level of risk it can carry. In studies, it was observed that cancer developed in experimental animals, but more research is necessary to fully understand its potential harm. In one study of Dutch women, post-menopausal, found “a small but significantly increased risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, but not breast cancer, associated with intake of acrylamide from food.” I guess the article I read that started all this investigating on my part was right.

Research continues on the risk of developing cancer as a result of acrylamide intake and currently the United States National Center for Toxicology Research is analyzing rodent assays, so we are awaiting the results. Unfortunately for many of us who love our potatoes baked or fried, the findings are grim, and it’s likely that our Lay’s and Pringles are harming us, to put it lightly.

The old adage about “everything in moderation” can be important here. We don’t have to cut out French fries and potato chips, but we must cut down on how much we consume, just to be on the safe side.

Health Canada provides more information on the dangers of Acrylamide.