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By Raúl Martínez
And the danger is so real that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reported that acrylamide in food potentially increases the risk of cancer.
Acrylamide or acrylic acid amide is a white, odorless and crystalline amide-type organic compound, soluble in water, ethanol, ether and chloroform. It is formed in food during cooking or processing at high temperatures, especially in products that contain reducing sugars such as fructose and glucose, and in the presence of asparagine, an amino acid present in large quantities in cereals and potatoes.
Acrylamide is formed at temperatures above 120 ° C in the process of browning food in an environment poor in water, either through frying, roasting or roasting and the amount produced depends on the recipe, time and temperature cooking. We can find it in a wide variety of industrially prepared foods, in restaurants or at home. The products that contain the most acrylamide are potato chips, French fries, coffee, toast, cookies and pastries.
Acrylamide is considered a suspected carcinogenic substance
A carcinogenic or carcinogenic substance is one that by inhalation, ingestion or skin penetration can cause cancer or increase its frequency, and acrylamide is so dangerous that it is subject to occupational health regulations regarding the protection of workers against risks related to exposure to carcinogens.
It is also a mutagenic substance, being mutagens the substances and preparations that by inhalation, ingestion or skin penetration can produce hereditary genetic alterations or increase their frequency. Acrylamide is of concern because it can induce heritable mutations in human germ cells.
Studies in different animal species show that the main target organ is the nervous system. Repeated exposure to acrylamide causes degeneration in areas of the brain (cerebral cortex, thalamus, and hippocampus) that are essential for memory, learning, and other cognitive functions, and its degenerative action also affects peripheral nerves. In studies carried out on the incidence of acrylamide in the reproduction of males, a reduction in fertility is found, affecting the sperm count and the morphology of the sperm.
So much scientific evidence has led EFSA to state that acrylamide "potentially increases the risk of developing cancer in consumers of all ages."
As a preventive measure, to minimize exposure to acrylamide and its derived risks, we must, when cooking food, not burn it, simply brown it slightly, and adopt as a good alternative the use of other much healthier cooking methods. such as boiling, steaming or sautéing, three options that avoid burning food, and what is more important, transform cooking and consumption habits, being much more selective with the ingredients we take and including a greater variety of products and better quality in our diet.