11 Unexpected Things that Cause Cancer

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10. Burnt food

What causes cancer? Cancer’s link to fried food and inflammation may not be a surprise, but there’s more to the story. Acrylamide is a chemical created in starchy foods (like potatoes and toast) when they’re cooked at higher temperatures. Frying, baking or broiling starchy foods above 248 degrees Fahrenheit seems to trigger acrylamide formation, while boiling and microwaving are less lightly to. Studies suggest that acrylamide can damage DNA and cause cancer in animals. (I still avoid microwaving my food for other reasons) For this reason, the International Agency for Research on Cancer named acrylamide a “probable carcinogen,” but as of yet, eating foods containing acrylamide has not been directly linked to increased cancer risk in humans.

What causes cancer in the dietary world beyond possibly acrylamide? Burning meat. But good news. You can lower grilling carcinogens by up to 99 percent using simple cooking trips. Research from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii found cooking meat using store-bought marinades that often contain excess sugar and high-fructose corn syrup can actually triple the amount of heterocyclic amines (HCAs), toxic, carcinogenic compounds also found in cigarette smoke.

How to avoid it: To be safe, however, experts suggest eating these starchy foods just “golden” and not burnt. Avoiding frying, baking or broiling for long amounts of time at high temperatures can also keep acrylamide at bay. And use this easy tater trick. Soaking raw, sliced or cut spuds for 30 minutes reduces acrylamide levels by 38 percent. If you have more time, a 2-hour soak will nearly cut acrylamide levels in half. But even a quick rinse helps, reducing levels by 23 percent.

Of course, avoiding french fries and chips is a great way to eliminate acrylamide and excess calories, too.

When it comes to lowering cancer causers in cooked meat, you can lower HCA levels by using vinegar-based marinades instead of sugary ones and including things like turmeric, garlic and herbs like rosemary.

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