Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Snack Food-Cancer Risk Link Downplayed

More Research Needed on Starchy-Snack Scare

WebMD Health News

June 28, 2002 -- Your snacking habit is safe for now. A group of international health experts says there is not enough evidence to prove that a substance found in many carbohydrate-rich foods such as potato chips, french fries, cookies, and cereals can cause cancer in humans.

But the group says recent findings about high levels of acrylamide -- a substance known to cause cancer in animals -- in common snack foods is a "major concern," and more research is needed.

"After reviewing all the available data, we have concluded that the new findings constitute a serious problem," said Dieter Arnold, director of Germany's Federal Institute for Health Protection of Consumers, in a statement. "But our current limited knowledge does not allow us to answer all the questions which have been asked by consumers, regulators and other interested parties."

Arnold led the three-day meeting on the issue of acrylamide in food, which was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Two months ago, a group of Swedish researchers announced that laboratory tests showed that baking or frying starchy foods such as potatoes, breads, and cereals at high temperatures created levels of acrylamide in these foods that are higher than those allowed by the WHO.

For example, they found a bag of potato chips may contain up to 500 times more of the substance than allowed in drinking water by the WHO. Those safety recommendations permit one microgram (one-millionth of a gram) of acrylamide per liter of drinking water.

But the expert panel says that although acrylamide is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals, no studies of the relationship between acrylamide and cancer in humans have been done. And the theoretical models used to predict whether humans may also develop cancer from average intake levels of the substance are not reliable enough to draw firm conclusions about risk.

The group says research has shown acrylamide's potency is similar to that found in other known cancer-causing substances such as certain types of hydrocarbons formed in meats when grilled or fried.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas