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Cooking and carcinogens

In a human epidemiological analysis by Richard Doll and Richard Peto in 1981, diet was estimated to cause perhaps around 35% of cancers. Some of these cancers may be caused by carcinogens in food generated during cooking process, although it is often difficult to identify the specific components in diet that serve to increase cancer risk. Many food, such as beef steak and broccoli, contain low concentrations of both carcinogens and anticarcinogens. Several studies published since 1990 indicate that cooking meat at high temperature creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are thought to increase cancer risk in humans. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that human subjects who ate beef rare or medium-rare had less than one third the risk of stomach cancer than those who ate beef medium-well or well-done. While eating meat raw may be the only way to avoid HCAs fully, the National Cancer Institute states that cooking meat below 212 ∞F (100 ∞C) creates "negligible amounts" of HCAs. Also, microwaving meat before cooking may reduce HCAs by 90%. Nitrosamines, present in processed and cooked foods, have also been noted as being carcinogenic, being linked to colon cancer. Research has shown that grilling, barbecuing and smoking meat and fish increases levels of carcinogenic Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). In Europe, grilled meat and smoked fish generally only contribute a small proportion of dietary PAH intake since they are a minor component of diet Ц most intake comes from cereals, oils and

ats. However, in the US, grilled/barbecued meat is the second highest contributor of the mean daily intake of benzo[a]pyrene at 21% after Сbread, cereal and grainТ at 29%. Baking, grilling or broiling food, especially starchy foods, until a toasted crust is formed generates significant concentrations of acrylamide, a possible carcinogen. A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes. Several radioactive substances are considered carcinogens, but their carcinogenic activity is attributed to the radiation, for example gamma rays and alpha particles, which they emit. Common examples of non-radioactive carcinogens are inhaled asbestos, certain dioxins, and tobacco smoke. Although the public generally associates carcinogenicity with synthetic chemicals, it is equally likely to arise in both natural and synthetic substances. Cancer is any disease in which damaged cells do not undergo programmed cell death as fast as they divide via mitosis. Carcinogens may increase the risk of cancer by altering cellular metabolism or damaging DNA directly in cells, which interferes with biological processes, and induces the uncontrolled, malignant division, ultimately leading to the formation of tumors. Usually, severe DNA damage leads to apoptosis, but if the programmed cell death pathway is damaged, then the cell cannot prevent itself from becoming a cancer cell.