About a year ago I heard that burning your food can lead to an increased risk of getting cancer. The explanation was that the burned portion of the food was carcinogenic. The Carbon that would be produced in burning of the food was also involved in this somehow although its relevance wasn't clearly explained. I was dubious of the claim until I posed the question to some chemist friends of mine who, to my surprise, were not as dismissive of the idea as I was.
Is burning your food something that can increase the likelihood of getting cancer and, if so, it the increase enough to be concerned about?
This question has hit the headlines again (at least in the UK early in 2017). For example, The Independent reports:
Over-cooked potatoes and burnt toast could cause cancer, new research suggests
The headlines have emerged because the Food Standards Agency has issued new advice:
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a public warning over the risks of acrylamide - a chemical compound that forms in some foods when they are cooked at high temperatures (above 120C).
A new campaign tells people how they can cut their risk, including opting for a gold colour - rather than darker brown - when frying, roasting, baking, grilling, or toasting.
The warnings are not just about burnt food but about well-cooked food and specifically mention acrylamide as the guilty party.
The story has reappeared (again) in the UK where a major supermarket has been criticised by several bodies for selling "well fired" bread: The Sun, for example, reports:
Experts claim that the company should warn people of the blackened edges of the bread, as they may contain a cancer-causing chemical.
The story appears to be based on the same Food standards Agency advice that triggered some of the previous stories.