Acrylamide – Another Inconvenient Truth

french fries

You’ve probably heard the news this morning, or read it on MSN or something – Toast, chips, crisps and roasties are among the food group which apparently all cause cancer. At least, they definitely do in animals, and it is therefore very likely that Acrylamide (a chemical compound released by cooking starchy foods above 120c) is a “probable human carcinogen” too, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Great. Some new all-time favourites to add to the ‘banned’ or ‘must be limited list’. This list is getting longer by the month, let me tell you.

OH FOR GODS SAKE!” Yells my genuinely hacked-off 13 year old son as he listens the news on the radio at 7am this morning. “Now she’s gonna ban chips as well as anything sugary!”.

She, meaning me of course. As it is, I’m already walking a fine line of culinary unpopularity since I banned the eating of bacon more than once a fortnight due to its carcinogenic reaction on the gut (Thanks to those Nitrate-y nitrates).  Little did he know, that the cornflakes he was scoffing down at the time also count as a scorched starch. But I will break that to him another day, I think. After all, we’ve only just been able to move on from the fact that he isn’t allowed to smother said cornflakes in giant piles of refined sugar like his friends do. And lets not even mention the fake Ray bans that I confiscated citing claims that they increase ones risk of eye cancer. Sorry darling, but its a fact. I cant un-read this stuff.

Told you … you shouldn’t cook your toast that much” says my husband, as I butter my slightly blackened and seared crust of toasty heaven.

QUICKLY … grab a bag of Walkers guys, before she throws them out” comes the shouty, bellowing sage advice from my eldest daughter (17) to her fellow siblings from down the hallway as they all scramble to find the last remaining 3 packets …

So Yeah. I It’s fair to say that a) my family know me too well, and b) they definitely find this news tedious and thoroughly inconvenient, and it has therefore (according to the 10 and 13 year old) been deemed a nonsense piece of study which should be blocked from all levels of our consciousness. FOREVER.

I will admit, this news does come as a shame to me too, as personally I love a bag of crisps or 5 at the weekend with a beer, and I ruddy well love a Jacobs cream cracker in the afternoon. I adore super crispy roast potato’s on Sundays, and as for chips? well, who doesn’t love chips? No, that’s a serious question: Find me ONE person who doesn’t like chips and I will eat my bobble hat. But hold on, wool, am I allowed to eat wool? … possibly not.

This is a disappointing piece of study to say the very least. But you know, what? It is what it is. I am not going to shoot the messenger. Instead I’m extremely grateful that there are entire organisations out there, spending their days and their whole careers figuring out why a whopping one in three of us will have Cancer at some point in our lives.

And whilst I genuinely hate to use my 13 year old’s stance as an example here (after all, he is still a child) his reaction is, in my mind is a fairly typical one that I find massively infuriating. Even Chris Evans remarked that this study is ‘Unhelpful’.

It strikes me that we want the cure for this awful disease, of course we do. We have ALL been touched by it. But generally speaking, we struggle to hear the findings as they arise. Not until they are more ‘helpful’. What are we exactly? a nation of total idiots that prefer to stay in our over-tanned, starchy, sugary, alcoholic, meaty bliss bubbles, until the ‘powers that be’ are able to spoon feed us a much more palatable range of results?

We all happily do the 5k races don’t we? Ooh, yeah we love a good event that involves chucking on a race number … and the lovely bake sales, and the coffee mornings. We totally dig a good sky dive or lets say, a good-old trek across Nepal to raise as much money for cancer research as possible. We proudly wear those t shirts which say ‘Cancer, we are coming to get you’ and caps with ‘Its Cancers turn to be afraid’ emblazoned across for all to see.

But after all is said and done, and the fundraising and donating and the cake eating is over … It seems that we get quite annoyed to hear any actual … well … Cancer research. We do, don’t we?

We all want to fight Cancer. We all want a cure.

But only if we are allowed to eat French Fries, right?