Cooked foods latest cancer threat

Less than a month after consumers were warned to cut processed meats entirely from their diet to avoid cancer, a new report published today has linked cooked foods to cancer in women.

Research has shown for the first time that a chemical produced during grilling, frying and roasting could double the risk of cancer in women. Acrylamide has been suspected as a human carcinogen for years, but has not been directly linked until now.

The chemical is found in in grilled, fried, roasted and barbecued meat, and in higher levels in starchy cooked foods such as bread, crisps and chips. The study from the university of Maastrict is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, and relies on a Dutch study of around 60,000 women which began in 1986.

After 11 years 327 had developed womb cancer, 300 ovarian cancer, and 1,835 breast cancer. Women who had consumed 40mg of acrylamide daily were found to have double the risk of womb cancer and ovarian cancer than the women who had consumed just 8.9mg of acrylamide daily. The study showed no link to breast cancer.

A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said its advice was to keep consumption of fried and roasted foods to a minimum. But he acknowledged it was unrealistic to avoid the risk all together: "It is actually quite difficult to avoid acrylimide if you've just got a normal balanced diet.

"At the Food Standards Agency, based on research we did in 2002, we've assumed that [acrylamide] is a possible human carcinogen but this is the first time that a direct link has been made through research."

In November the World Cancer Research Fund linked processed meat to cancer and advised consumers to avoid it, although bacon consumption actually rose in the week following its publication.

My Account


Most read


For the third year running, a grain fed cow won the World Steak Challenge. What do you think produces the best beef?