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Fried Food Ingredient Mutates DNA, Study Finds


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Fried Food Ingredient Mutates DNA, Study Finds


June 18, 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Acrylamides, cancer-causing agents recently found in some fried and baked foods, damage DNA by causing a spectrum of mutations, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Swedish researchers caused a global furor in 2000 when they reported that acrylamides, used to purify water and in other industrial processes, could be found in a range of baked and fried foods.

They seem to be formed by exposing high-carbohydrate foods to high temperatures such as those found in baking and frying.

The chemicals can cause cancer in laboratory animals but have never been linked to human cancer.

Ahmad Besaratinia and Gerd Pfeifer of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California found that acrylamides can mutate DNA.

Cells exposed to acrylamide had more adducts -- specific types of mutations in the DNA -- than untreated cells, they reported in this week´s issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

They noted that they treated mouse cells only, not human cells. They said the best way to find out if acrylamide causes cancer in people is to do epidemiological studies -- studies of populations to see if people who eat more foods containing acrylamides have higher rates of cancer.

One such study, published by U.S. and Swedish researchers last January, found no link between acrylamide consumption and the risk of bladder or kidney cancer.

Acrylamide experts Fredrik Granath of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Margareta Tornqvist of Stockholm University in Sweden, said the risk to any one person from eating acrylamides is small and they would not recommend changing nutritional guidelines.

"However, the situation for vulnerable groups, e.g., pregnant women and children, should always be carefully considered," they wrote in a commentary on the work, also published in the journal.

But a U.S. group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is lobbying for limits on acrylamide in food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested baby food, cereals, cookies, crackers, infant formulas and other foods, and found the levels of acrylamides vary greatly.

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