Guest Blog: Crunchy Toast Could Give You Cancer, Experts Warned

Wednesday 1 February 2017

A new study has revealed that eating crunchy toast can lead to cancer. The study, conducted by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), found that overcooked toast has high levels of a chemical that can potentially cause cancer. So what is this culprit and how do high levels of it make its way to a classic home-cooked favorite?

The chemical that’s at the spotlight of this new study is called acrylamide, a proven carcinogen. When subjected to temperatures over 120 degrees Celsius, an amino acid called asparagine, the sugars, and the waters found in bread react with one another and form acrylamide. This also happens when other starchy foods, such as potatoes and chips, are roasted beyond the acceptable level. The same is also true for some breakfast cereals, biscuits, and crackers.

As of press time, acrylamide is considered by the US Environmental Protection Agency to be “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the cancer centre of the World Health Organization, also weighs in by rating acrylamide as a probable human carcinogen.

The more burnt a toast is, the higher its levels of carcinogens are, the study adds. Comparative tests involving crunchy toast cooked in 50 different households showed that pale, mildly cooked toast contained only 9 microgrammes of acrylamide per kilogram, while crunchy toast contained a whopping 167 microgrammes per kilogram. This means that crunchy toast is almost 19 times more likely to cause cancer. Unfortunately, this is where the problem lies since the crispier and crunchier the toast is, the better it tastes. Crunchy toast is also well-loved among young kids. However, while overcooking toast a little bit may improve its taste and texture, the dangers of eating it are simply not worth it.

While the researchers behind the study do not advise people to stop eating toast altogether, they do warn consumers to toast bread only to the lightest acceptable color. They encourage consumers to “go for gold”, which means that toast should only be a light golden yellow in color. This also means that people don’t need to change their diets consisting of crunchy toast. It’s simply a matter of how they make their toast.

In addition, they also note that although the occasional serving of crunchy toast will not do much harm, the risk should still be managed over time. This can be done by reducing one’s overall consumption of it. Even the smallest effort to reduce one’s consumption of crunchy toast can reduce a person’s lifetime risk of cancer. Thus, one less serving of crunchy toast can make a significant difference in the long run.

In line with this, the European Commission is currently considering releasing a maximum safe level of acrylamide content in food in addition to the limit they have imposed on the acceptable level of the chemical found in drinking water. The EU has ruled that each litre of drinking water should only contain a maximum level of 0.1 microgrammes. This is a far cry from the 167 microgrammes that usually form on crunchy toast.

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.