Carcinogens are chemicals that are produced natural in foods or can be formed in the cooking processes of foods. Think of carcinogens as the opposite of antioxidants.
Carcinogens in natural foods can occur in fungi that grow in grains , nuts and fruits or can be found in foods that are cooked at high temperatures. Carcinogens can damage or change our DNA structure and develop cancers at intestines and stomach level.
Acrylamide, is a carcinogen that can be found in foods that is cooked at high temperatures, usual over 350 F. These carcinogens form when sugar interacting with an amino acid called Aspargine . What food is at risks? . Baked bread, roasted potatoes, fried potatoes, potato chips , French fries, all meats, poultry and fish. . The darker the fried/ cooked food looks, more carcinogens are present. When cooking, amino acids in food also react with each other or with creatinine in meats , poultry , fish to create heterocycles amines, polycyclic amines and nitrosamines. Those carcinogens are mostly concentrated in the crust of roasted foods like, meats, drippings of roasts , fats , also can be found in fried foods as well. ( all that yummy taste)
How to prevent formations of carcinogens in cooked foods? American Cancer Institute recommend that food should be cooked at lower temperatures , avoid open flames cooking, do not grill or cook to excessive heats over 350F. Cut foods in smaller sizes that can cook faster is an also a good idea. When you grill/BBQ foods, make sure you avoid increased smoke. Smoke produce PAH carcinogen (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and consist of over 100 chemicals formed. Not everyone can grill, sear and broil. Those cooking techniques need knowledge of professional cooks or chefs because are high heat cooking techniques and take more than just placing food on extreme heats.
Food should be cooked fast if require high heat or slow cooked /lower heat if require long periods of time to finish cooking .
The good news is that if we consume healthy food rich in antioxidants ( vegetables, fruits) we have a defense mechanisms against those carcinogens. Also limit calories intake from animal sources will lower the chances of developing cancers.