Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Experts launch action on acrylamide in staple foods

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 20 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:120

Rapid Response:

The End of Fish and Chips?

The End of Fish and Chips?

Our small friends, the mice, genetically prone to cancer just by the
habit of eating have been fed colossal amounts of acrylamide and have
developed cancer. So far so good. But mice are not little people and there
is no evidence whatsoever that acrylamide contributes to cancer in humans.

The assumption that there is the same risk in humans as in rodents is
just that, an assumption, taken completely out of the blue.

Epidemiological studies in humans show no association between
exposure to acrylamide and increased cancer rates. (1)

So, here we are. No data, no hard facts, a piece of fiction, a food
scare, junk science. But the 'concerted action of the experts' is built on
the saying: 'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. This means
that there isn't any evidence, but you should believe anyway, an attitude
that should be ridiculed by BMJ as an abandonment of reason. The concerted
action is much ado about nothing, and using experiments in animals to
predict cancer risk in humans is voodoo.

But if, just imagine if?? Should we abandon chips? Is this the end of
McDonald's French fries? Hardly.
The lowest dose that according to EPA slightly increased life-time cancer
risk in rodents was 500 micrograms per kilogram per day.(2)

Given the fact that the Swedish researchers found the amount in fries
to be 450 micrograms per kilogram I would personally in order to increase
my risk have to consume 42 kilogram fries -- every day -- for the rest of
my life.

Let's us get real.

The advice from the experts to eat plenty of fresh fruit and
vegetables to combat cancer is a curious one. Why curious? They are green
and healthy. They've got to be protective.

99.99% of the pesticides in our diet are chemicals that the plants
produce themselves, only 0.01% are man-made synthetic. Half of the tested
pesticides are rodent carcinogens in high-dose animal tests and these are
present in many common foods. We get, in comparison with the minuscule
load of man-made carcinogens, extremely high doses of natural carcinogens
every day from for example: parsley, parsnip, celery, mushrooms, cabbage,
cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, horseradish, basil, fennel, pepper,
pineapple, jasmine tea, honey, coffee, apple, carrot, cherry, eggplant,
grapes, lettuce, pear, plum, potato, and so on, and so on. (2)

And all this toxic green stuff hasn't even been fried.

What a hype.

Jorgen Vesti-Nielsen
Consultant Physician

1 Marsh GM, Lucas LJ, Youk AO, Schall LC. Mortality patterns among
workers exposed to acrylamide: 1994 follow up. Occup Environ Med 2001


3 Ames BN, Profet M, Gold LS. Dietary pesticides (99.99% natural).
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1990; 87:7777-7781.

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 July 2002
jorgen Vesti-Nielsen
consultant physician
Dept. med. Blekingesjukhuset. 37480 Karlshamn