Fries with a side of acrylamide

December 02, 2015

French fry lovers, beware! You may be exposed to a chemical more commonly associated with heavy industry than crispy fried potatoes. Fortunately, researchers are finding ways to reduce that exposure.

French fries contain acrylamide. The chemical poses a risk for several types of cancer in rodents. However, the evidence from human studies is still incomplete. The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers the chemical a "probable human carcinogen."

Scientists first began paying attention to the unwanted chemical's presence in food more than a decade ago. Trace amounts of acrylamide are present in many foods cooked at temperatures higher than 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Relatively high levels are found in fried potatoes, including French fries and potato chips.

With that in mind, a group of scientists set out in 2011 to identify potato varieties that form less acrylamide.

Led by University of Idaho researcher Yi Wang, the group assessed more than 140 potato varieties. The researchers' goal was to identify potatoes that make great French fries and form less acrylamide. The amount of the chemical found in fried potatoes is thought to be directly linked to the chemistry of the raw potatoes.

Raw potatoes contain an amino acid called asparagine. The amino acid is found in many animal and plant food sources, and it's a known precursor of acrylamide. When cooked at high temperatures, sugars react with amino acids, including asparagine, in a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction. The reaction is what gives fried potatoes their prized flavor and color, but it is also what produces acrylamide.

Researchers planted 149 potato breeds in five potato-growing regions across the United States. Upon harvesting, they sent some of the raw potatoes to labs. There, the potatoes were stored in conditions similar to commercial potatoes. After storage, the labs tested the potatoes for their levels of reducing sugars and asparagine. Researchers then fried some of the potatoes and observed how much acrylamide the potatoes formed.

The researchers found that it is fairly achievable to identify potato breeds that produce less acrylamide, especially when compared with the industry standard potato breeds, Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank.

"The real challenge is to find the varieties that not only have those characteristics, but also yield finished products with desirable processing quality that meet the stringent standards of the food industry," Wang said.

Two of the most promising varieties -- Payette Russet and Easton -- have already been released for commercial use.

Wang said the group hopes to identify genes that are related to lower acrylamide in certain fried potatoes. The study shows a strong relationship between the genetics of a raw potato and its potential to form acrylamide. If researchers are able to identify the specific genes, they may be able to eliminate them in the future.

The team's research is published in Crop Science.
-end-


American Society of Agronomy

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.