• Question: How can you get cancer from eating burnt toast??? :-P

    Asked by russarianpantsxx to Mariam, Leo, Jo, Iain, Gioia on 17 Jun 2010 in Categories: . This question was also asked by helen1.
    • Photo: Leo Garcia

      Leo Garcia answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      I’ll quote from here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/chemicalworld/story/0,,1219603,00.html) as I didn’t actually know the answer to this:

      “Burnt toast (and, for that matter, barbecued or smoked meats) contains increased levels of a known carcinogen (cancer causing chemical), benzopyrene… Benzopyrene [has] been shown to cause cancer in animals. Indeed, benzopyrene is sometimes used in laboratory experiments to induce a range of cancers in mice. The chemical is thought to damage DNA by attaching itself to particular sites on the molecule. The DNA does repair itself, but just one damaged area could lead to mutations when body cells subsequently divide and, ultimately, to cancer.”

    • Photo: Joanna Watson

      Joanna Watson answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      There was a theory that chemicals called heterocyclic amines that are in burnt food could cause cancer. I just checked with one of my colleagues who studies nutrition and cancer and she told me that there have been lots of studies to check whether this is true and they have all shown that eating burnt food does not give you cancer.

    • Photo: Iain Moal

      Iain Moal answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      Yes, eating too much burnt, barbequed or smoked food can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer. I wouldn’t worry about it though, just try not to burn it too much and you can always scrape off the black bits.

    • Photo: Mariam Orme

      Mariam Orme answered on 17 Jun 2010:

      When you burn toast (or, for that matter, meat and most other foods), you create chemicals that are carcinogenic (in other words, chemicals that can promote cancer).