By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Acrylamide, used to produce plastics and dyes and to purify drinking water, has been shown to be carcinogenic in animal experiments and is suspected of causing cancer among people exposed to high levels for long periods. Although traces of it have been found in water, its possible presence at high levels in basic foods came as a shock. A Swedish study, published in April 2002, sounded the first alarm that some starch-based foods cooked at high temperatures contained acrylamide. Subsequent studies in Norway, Britain, Switzerland and the United States basically backed up the findings of Sweden’s National Food Administration. The U.S. findings agreed with European findings that French fries had the highest levels of acrylamide. Potato and corn chips also had high levels.

In addition to the toxin, French fries and processed food, especially those that are deep fried, contain large quantity of hydrogenated oil (also called trans-fat) that has been shown to be carcinogenic.

For a detail report prepared by Center for Science in the Public Interest, click here.



  • Jethro says:

    Does heating starch based foods to a high temperature create acrylamide, or is it already in these products

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Baking, roasting, frying can create a chemical, acrylamide, in some starchy food such as potato chips and bread. Some studies found acrylamide in prunes, black olives, dried pears, and coffee.