Brown potatoes, toast and meats cancer link

Discussion in 'Dieting / Supplement Discussion' started by Codger, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. Codger Brown Belt

    Codger
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    The UK's FSA has started a campaign called "Go for Gold" to encourage people to reduce their acrylamide consumption and the media and taken it up with headlines about toast causing cancer.

    https://www.food.gov.uk/news-update...-go-for-gold-to-reduce-acrylamide-consumption

    I've looked into it and I'm frankly amazed that they would consider this worthy of a public health campaign.

    1. The evidence is in vitro and rat studies not humans
    2. The rats are given many times the amout humans are likely to be exposed to (up to 10,000x)
    3. Studies done on humans don't show a clear link. From the EFSA "Currently, studies on human subjects have provided limited and inconsistent evidence of increased risk of developing cancer."
    4. Because of 1 and 3, we cannot quantify the risk so really do not know what the effect size of not browning potatoes or whatever would actually have in real terms.
    5. We have been consuming acrylamide ever since humans started to use fire, i.e. "forever". Whilst this doesn't mean it doesn't cause cancer, it makes you wonder how this could be the cause of any rise in cancer. You cannot avoid eating entirely given anything approaching a normal diet.
    6. The FSA quote the Total Diet Study as showing we are "currently exposed to higher levels of acrylamide than is desirable" yet do not, as far as I could see, provide a "desirable" figure backed up with any evidence that is, or is not, desirable.
    7. Given we know beyond any doubt that obesity causes a large proportion of cancers and the government has had no effect on the rising tide of obesity that is killing us, you have to wonder why they think they can talk people out of eating crisps, biscuits and chips/fries.

    From the Daily Telegraph:
    Sir David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University, said the campaign was inappropriate.

    “I’m always ambivalent about public health campaigns that are not based on some pretty firm quantitative evidence,” he said. “Many things in life may increase risk, but it’s the size of the risk that makes it important.”

    So it would appear that we've no idea what effect size telling people to cook potatoes to a golden, but not brown, colour would have - what reduction in cancer rates it will cause.
     
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  2. therealdope Steel Belt

    therealdope
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    Where are you going to find a bunch of people that are willing to eat burnt toast in a prospective study to see if they get cancer. A well designed large animal trial would be a good step toward testing the hypothesis but no one is going to want to see a bunch of chimps forced to eat burnt toast.

    This is random but my mother always liked toast and cookies that most people would consider burnt. Otherwise she eats as clean as anyone i've ever known. She's been a health nut since the 70s. In any case, she's had cancer 3 times and now has a form of cancer that is almost certainly going to kill her.
     
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  3. Codger Brown Belt

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    Firstly they don't need to eat burned toast in trial. Acrylamides are in all sorts of foods. You'd easily find people willing to eat potato chips since most people do anyway. But that's not really important - just because designing a trial presents some difficulties does not mean evidence in any direction.

    You don't need double blind trials for this sort of things and you'll never get them. You can do cohort studies, have people log what they eat, or examine populations known to eat more of it etc. And they have done this. Some studies indicate it might cause very small increased risk in specific cancers whilst some show no effect. One problem is that it generally accompanies foods like potato chips, roasts and so on which are unhealthy in other ways. So it's hard to say what is and what is not causing any increase in cancer and even if it does, whether the increase is worth worrying about. This is key - all sorts of things cause cancer. We cannot avoid all of them. We have to focus on the ones that represent the the greatest risks. With no numbers behind the campaign we've no way of knowing what the risk reduction is. I'm not going to avoid fries for life if I'm only going to cut the risk of some obscure cancer from say 10 in a million to 9 in a million, it's not worth it. But if it's going to reduce my overall mortality by say 15% I would.

    The point stands that there is insufficient evidence that it represents such a significant increased cancer risk in humans in the quantities like to be eaten by humans to start a public health campaign about at it this point.

    What we know, without a shadow of a doubt is that obesity is killing people the West in the millions. Before starting yet another scare campaign with not quantifiable benefit, that will have almost no effect, they'd be better of spending money having adverts on TV every hour telling people if they're fat then then they are very likely to die of heart disease and cancer years before they should. Or giving healthcare discounts to people of correct weight or similar.

    My gran smoked 20 a day and lived to 85 so cigarettes clearly don't cause cancer....
     
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  4. therealdope Steel Belt

    therealdope
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    How do you know she didn't have cancer? SHe have a clear PET/CT exam?
     
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