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Carcinogen Found in
French Fries, Bread, Biscuits

(and some fascinating information about the American Cancer Society)

by Don Bennett DAS


STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Basic foods eaten by millions around the world such as bread, biscuits, crisps and French fries contain high quantities of acrylamide, a substance believed to increase cancer risk, Swedish scientists said on Wednesday.

The research carried out at Stockholm University in cooperation with Sweden's National Food Administration, a government food safety agency, showed that baking or frying carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes or cereals formed acrylamide, a much studied substance classified as a probable human carcinogen.

The research was deemed important enough for the scientists to go public with their findings before the research had been officially published in an academic journal.

"I have been in this field for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this before," said Leif Busk, head of the food administration's research department.

Findings unveiled at a news conference called by the food administration showed that an ordinary bag of potato crisps may contain up to 500 times more of the substance than the top level allowed in drinking water by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO recommends one microgram (one-millionth of a gram) per litre as a maximum permitted for drinking water.

Liliane Abramsson-Zetterberg, a toxicologist at the Swedish food administration, said: "The cancer risk from acrylamide is much higher than (the levels) we accept for known carcinogens."

But smoking, which is known to cause cancer, remained a bigger risk, she said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies acrylamide, a colorless, crystalline solid, as a medium-hazard probable human carcinogen.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide induces gene mutations and has been found in animal tests to cause benign and malignant stomach tumors.

It is also known to cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous system.

"The discovery that acrylamide is formed during the preparation of food, and at high levels, is new knowledge. It may now be possible to explain some of the cases of cancer caused by food," Busk said.

"Fried, oven-baked, and deep-fried potato and cereal products may contain high levels of acrylamide," the administration said.

"Acrylamide is formed during the preparation of food and occurs in many foodstuffs.... Many of the analyzed foodstuffs are consumed in large quantities, e.g. potato crisps, French fries, fried potatoes, biscuits and bread."

Margareta Tornqvist, an associate professor at Stockholm University's department of environmental chemistry, said the consumption of a single potato crisp could take acrylamide intake up to the WHO maximum for drinking water.

Busk said, however, that the product analysis based on more than 100 random samples was not extensive enough for the administration to recommend the withdrawal of any products from supermarket shelves.

"Frying at high temperatures or for a long time should be avoided," Busk said, adding: "Our advice to eat less fat-rich products such as French fries and crisps, remains valid."

He said the findings applied worldwide, not only to Sweden, as the food raw materials used in the analyses had showed no traces of acrylamide.

Swedish authorities had informed the European Commission and EU member countries, Busk said.

"It is the first time we have come across such a result. We will evaluate this study and look at it, but it is important to say that Sweden has not withdrawn any products from the market," said European Commission spokeswoman Beate Gminder.

"Therefore, we'll have to see what the scientific evaluation by our side and by scientists in the member states will bring about," she said.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Dr. Michael Thun, head of epidemiologic research for the American Cancer Society said, "Sweden is quite aggressive with removing or reducing exposures that the government considers hazardous to consumers and workers. The fact that they did not act suggests that they still have some questions about it."

[End of article]


In the last paragraph, the above report mentioned the American Cancer Society, whose head of epidemiologic research seemed to downplay the implications of this news. If you want to know the truth about organizations like the American Cancer Society, read, "The Politics of Cancer Revisited" by Samuel S. Epstein, MD. Here are two reviews:

"A unique and superbly documented indictment of the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society for their reckless indifference to cancer prevention, for their incestuous relationship with the cancer drug industry, and for their false claims for miracle cancer drugs and for winning the war against cancer."

"The Politics of Cancer Revisited challenges misleading claims that we have 'turned the tide against cancer' and shows how the establishment is largely responsible for losing the winnable war against cancer. With equal accuracy and vigor, the book provides vital information - long ignored or trivialized by the cancer establishment - on a wide range of avoidable causes of cancer and on how readers and their families can protect themselves against cancer.

And then there's this from an alternative media radio show: "Most Censored Story: Does The American Cancer Society Work To Prevent Cancer?"

"Last night, Project Censored handed out awards to journalists, academics and activists for covering stories that have been censored by the mainstream media. Among them was Dr. Samuel Epstein, the Chair of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. He exposed the American Cancer Society, one of the wealthiest non-profits, which gets much of its money from surgeons, top drug companies and corporations that he says profit from the cancer industry and have little interest in cancer prevention. According to Dr. Epstein, the ACS spends most of its money on overhead, salaries and fringe benefits, and little on cancer prevention and education."

To quote Dr. Epstein, ""The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have misled and confused the public and Congress by repeated false claims that we are winning the war against cancer - claims made to create public and Congressional support for massive increases in budgetary appropriations."

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