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Experts Warn: Burnt Toast And Crispy Fries Can Increase Your Cancer Risk

It seems like every food we actually enjoy eating is bound to cause cancer, but at least there are new guidelines that will let us enjoy french fries safely.

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA)  announced on Monday that dark toast, chips, roast potatoes and other starchy foods may increase your risk of developing cancer.

The foods and ingredients themselves aren't unhealthy, but when they're cooked until they turn brown they naturally release a chemical called acrylamide. Acrylamide has been proven to cause cancer in animals, and while there haven't been any tests on humans, doctors are convinced it would affect us the same way.

Luckily, the FSA says the amount of acrylamide in your diet is easy to reduce. Here are their guidelines for how to do it.

The FSA are very clear that you don't need to avoid these foods forever, just be safe about how you eat them and how often.

"This is about managing your risk across your lifetime," says the agency's director of policy Steve Wearne.

In fact, experts haven't even decided what the "safe level" of acrylamide in your diet is, so they can't tell you how much to avoid. Instead, they want you to focus on cooking your food safely and mixing your diet up so you're not only munching on fries.


Their biggest piece of advice is to "go for gold," by always cooking potatoes to a golden color, not any darker.

Whenever you can, try to boil, steam or microwave your starches instead of baking. Also, avoid storing potatoes in the fridge, because this raises the level of cancer-causing chemicals in your spuds. Instead, keep them in a cold, dark place, like your pantry.

Finally, be sure to follow your recipes and directions on packaged foods carefully, to avoid overcooking your food.


Part of avoiding acrylamide is eating healthier. The chemical is also found in coffee, crackers, cereals and biscuits, so if you're eating one of those at every meal, think about cutting down. Replace a couple servings of starches with vegetables every week and your body will thank you.

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