Maybe you’re parents already told you about it or maybe you read about it: Burned food is really bad for you. First of all, burned food usually shows some form of absentmindedness during cooking, which there shouldn’t be to begin with.

When you’re eating eat, when you’re cooking cook, don’t do 13 other things besides that.

Additionally burned food usually tastes really bad. I hate throwing away food, but for burned food (which shouldn’t happen anyway) I’ll make an exception. The most important part of the food for many of us is its taste, which is usually gone when it’s burned.

The third thing I want to focus on is that burned food might cause cancer. I use the word “might”, because, especially in humans there aren’t enough studies at this point in time, although a Danish study from 2007, found a direct link between Acrylamide intake and breast cancer. 

Knowledge-base: Acrylamide is a chemical that is used in many production processes. Besides that, it is found in cigarette smoke and food packaging. It can also develop when cooking (starchy) foods at temperatures above 120°C (248°F). Acrylamide is the substance, found especially in burned and darken foods, that’s associated with cancer growth. The WHO labeled it as a “major concern”, but acknowledged that more studies are needed. 

While several lab studies found a connection between acrylamide intake and cancer growth, it is necessary to say that those studies usually used acrylamide exposure that is much higher than what people would normally eat. 

Human studies haven’t found a connection between the acrylamide intake and cancer growth, except for the one Danish study previously mentioned. Their results were that women who eat 40 micrograms of acrylamide on a daily basis (which is as much as one bag of potato chips contains) had double the risk of cancer than those who consumed the least amount of acrylamide.

Although you might think that eating a bag of potato chips per day is not what you are doing, eating several sources of acrylamide i.e. chips, fries, burned foods, etc. add up.

Even most international health organizations classified acrylamide as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Knowledge-base: Carcinogenic is any substance or compound that tend to produce cancer.

Despite it is not 100% sure that burned foods cause cancer, I’ll suggest whenever you can you don’t eat them at all. Ideally, when you are cooking, your food shouldn’t get burned, but I also know that it can happen from time to time.

Try to cut off the burnt parts to reduce your exposure to the hazardous chemical.

Steps to take:

  • Be present while cooking so you avoid food getting burned.
  • Don’t eat burned food. Either cut it away or (in a restaurant) return the food.
  • Avoid other sources of Acrylamide such as potato chips and cigarette smoke.


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