Friday, April 22, 2011

Rubbishy acrylamide scare still rumbling on

I think I said all that needs to be said on it 6 years ago. Its just another way of attacking things that are popular -- pure attention-seeking

A chemical which causes cancer has been found in a huge range of foods including bread, crisps and baby food. Scientists have identified high levels in thousands of cooked and processed products.

The substance, acrylamide, has been linked to several types of cancer including bowel, bladder and kidney, and is known to cause infertility and loss of muscle control.

Scientists have known since 2002 that the chemical exists in certain products and have urged the food industry to reduce levels.

But a major study by the European Union has confirmed that there are still large amounts in a range of items including chips, instant coffee, bread, biscuits, crisps, breakfast cereals and baby food.

Experts are now urging food producers to take stronger action, and are advising the public to cut down on processed food and eat as much fresh produce as possible.

Scientists do not know exactly what causes acrylamide to form but they believe it occurs as a result of a chemical process during baking, frying, grilling or toasting. It appears to form when food is heated to above 120c. It is not found in uncooked or boiled food.

It is also manufactured for industry and used to make asphalt, glue, dye, paper, fabric and cosmetics as well as to remove impurities in drinking water.

The EU’s European Food Safety Authority examined 22 different food groups known to contain high levels of acrylamide in 23 countries, including Britain, and compared levels recorded in 2007 and 2009.

It found despite the warnings, levels had increased in instant coffee and crispbread and remained the same in almost all the other products. Levels had gone down only in crackers, baby biscuits and gingerbread. The report warns that voluntary measures by the food industry have had ‘limited success’ and concludes that further action is needed.

It concludes: ‘It would be desirable to reduce acrylamide levels further in food groups contributing the most to exposure, such as fried potatoes including French fries, soft bread, roasted coffee and biscuits.’

Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) are also urging the public to minimise their risk by cutting down on processed foods, but they say that at the moment there is not enough evidence to justify advising the public to avoid certain foods.

Dr Angelika Tritscher of the WHO said: ‘Acrylamide is clearly carcinogenic. It has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies and we have no reason to think that the same is not true for humans. ‘We don’t know what the risk is and if we tried to quantify it, it would just be a guess which would lead to scaremongering. ‘But it’s very important for us to reduce our exposure. It reinforces the importance of a healthy diet.’

In 2008 the UK Food Standards Agency found high levels of acrylamide in a range of processed foods including Hula Hoops, Ryvita and Pringles. The FSA does not currently advise that people should specifically try to avoid foods high in acrylamide. However, it says that they should seek to cut down on fatty foods such as chips and crisps as part of a balanced diet.


The jab that will help Nature to beat osteoporosis by building new bone

A jab to treat osteoporosis by helping to build new bone, potentially reducing the frequency of treatments for sufferers from once a day to once every three months, has been developed.

Most of the drugs currently used to treat osteoporosis, or brittle bones, simply stop old bone from being broken down by the body. But the new medicine, which could be available in as little as three years, helps by binding to sclerostin, a protein that slows down or blocks the building of new bone. The drug stops the protein working, speeding up the bone-building process.

Its creation began with the study of a group of people whose bones were abnormally strong due to a rare disease called sclerosteosis.

Scientists identified the gene that strengthened their bones and showed that it works by stopping sclerostin from being made. In a trial on more than 400 women the ‘sclerostin-antibody’ jab ‘compared favourably’ with existing drugs.

Dr Roger Perlmutter, of U.S. drug company Amgen, which is developing the drug with a Belgian company, said: ‘We are encouraged by the results of this study.’

Osteoporosis occurs when old bone is broken down by the body more quickly than it is built. An estimated three million Britons are thought to be affected, with 230,000 breaking weakened bones each year and 1,150 dying each month after fracturing a hip.

The women who took part in the trial were given injections once a month or once every three months. Many of the existing drugs need to be taken daily – which patients often find so inconvenient they stop taking them.

A further, larger-scale trial is planned. If it shows the new drug to be safe and effective, it could be on the market in three to five years.


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