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More Evidence Against Acrylamide

Feb 16, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Acrylamide, a by-product of potato chip processing, is again making news for its health dangers, this time heart risks, reports Science Daily.  A group of Polish researchers, headed by Marek Naruszewicz, just published their findings in the March 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Acrylamide has been linked in the past to nervous system disorders and, in some studies, cancer.  Now, acrylamide in foods has been found to increase heart disease risks, said Science Daily.  The study looked at participants ingesting 157 micrograms of acrylamide every day for four weeks.  After the four week period, the participants’ oxidized LDL levels, their inflammatory markers, and the antioxidants that help in the body’s efforts to eliminate acrylamide, revealed some unfavorable results, all of which pointed to an increased risk of heart disease noted Science Daily.  Acrylamide is found in particularly high levels in French fries and potato chips.

The research team concluded that more research, specifically in the form of long-term studies, is needed and should focus on those people who ingest 20-to-30 micrograms of acrylamide—an amount considered closer to typical—on a daily basis.  In the meantime, the research team suggested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and others in the food industry continue to work to decrease the toxin’s development in foods, said Science Daily.  The team also noted that acrylamide levels could potentially be decreased with certain food processing methods, reported UPI.

According to an American Society for Nutrition Spokesperson, Mary Ann Johnson, PhD, "Consumers can reduce their exposure to acrylamide by limiting their intake of potato chips and French fries, choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat meat and dairy products, and quitting smoking, which is a major source of acrylamide," quoted UPI and Science Daily.

Known to cause cancer in animals and to pose toxicity to the nervous systems of animals and humans, acrylamide is a chemical that is used in the construction of dam foundations and tunnels, and now appears to be produced in some foods prepared at high temperatures, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the past, acrylamide posed health concerns on workers exposed to the toxin as well as to smokers, but since a discovery by the Swedish National Food Authority in early 2002, that focus has changed.  In 2002, said the WHO, the Swedish National Food Authority reported elevated levels of acrylamide in certain types of foods processed at high temperatures.  Since, acrylamide has been found in a wide array of cooked and heat-processed foods in a number of countries in addition to the United States, including the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The chemical acrylamide develops when carbohydrate-rich foods are fried, roasted, grilled, or baked at temperatures above 120 degrees Celcius and is typically found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, chips, and French fries and is also found in coffee.  Tobacco smoking also generates substantial amounts of acrylamide.


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