This week, I discovered that toast can give you cancer. TOAST. Can give you cancer.
As someone who is too impatient to cook, often hungry, and a lover of Marmite, I’m sure you can imagine my dismay. Toast is a staple in my diet. I eat so much toast it should be a crime. I have a favourite type of bread for toast. I may be the leading toast consumer in my surrounding area. I love toast. But this blog post is not about toast, sadly, so I digress.
I am more interested in the exasperation now filtering into the news from scientists who are sick of being included in a ‘scientific consensus’ about a topic they have not personally researched, do not agree with, or have never even heard of. A scientific consensus means that everyone agrees.
However, scientists rarely ever agree on anything. They are actually a very argumentative group of people. No matter what your theory or results might prove, there will always be evidence to the contrary – that’s part of what is so great about science. Always question facts! So to say we are absolutely certain that the brown colour caused by cooking your bread or potatoes properly will give you cancer is absolutely false.
Here’s a bit of science: the chemical we are being urged to avoid is acrylamide, produced when some of the sugars in starchy foods are heated. Acrylamide has been linked to cancers in mice. It’s not a pleasant chemical, especially when confronted with large doses, although technically this is true of any chemical. You can die from overexposure to oxygen, I’ll have you know.
To accumulate an amount of acrylamide in your body equivalent to the amount that causes an unlikely link to possibly increased tumours in mice, you would have to ingest 300 times the average amount usually ingested of this chemical. Per day. That is a LOT of toast. More than even I could manage.
So remember next time you see a radical news story that claims to be based on science, sometimes that science is questionable. And you should question it. And I’m going to make some toast, because as we all now know, I’m not going to get cancer from it unless I am eating an extortionate and really quite worrying amount.