Recently concerned with health effects by common chemicals existent in food I've been rather busy reading article after article; and just an interesting one came around:

Acrylamide (or acrylic amide) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula $\ce{C3H5NO}$. Wikipedia

Some evidence suggests exposure to large doses can cause damage to the male reproductive glands. Acrylamide is considered a potential occupational carcinogen by U.S. government agencies. Still wikipedia

A series of case-control studies have investigated the relationship between dietary intake of acrylamide and the risk of developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, large bowel, kidney, breast, and ovary. These studies generally found no excess of tumors associated with acrylamide intake. Cancer.gov

Well, though the references are generally controversial, you can conclude that though nothing is proven by the studies, take care:

FDA: States that acrylamide is a carcinogen of animals, is a human concern, but "should I worry when eating high-temperature fried or roasted food?" "NO."

Food standards agency: Lab proves acrylamide a carcinogen, but real life didn't give up many victims, though this isn't a new issue.

Along with researches done by FAO and WHO, still the carcinogenic concerns aren't very serious.

As a chemist, what reasons would you have provided that acrylamide is carcinogenic or not? Should I really worry about it when I eat french fries?


1 Answer 1


Acrylamide is a Michael acceptor. All Michael acceptors are potentially carcinogenic because DNA can act as a Michael donor. This Michael reaction can damage the DNA, which can ultimately develop into cancer. Of course how well a certain Michael acceptor reacts with DNA depends on its chemical structure (i.e. the carbon chain and other function groups as well as its conformation), and hence not every Michael acceptor is equally carcinogenic.

If you worry about eating too much French fries I would first be concerned with my caloric and sodium intake. For that there is solid evidence that it greatly reduces human health if taken in excess.


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