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Acrylamide – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Friday, December 08, 2017 by

Acrylamide is a colorless and odorless chemical that is formed as a result of heating starchy foods at high temperatures.

List of known side effects

An entry published on the American Cancer Society website reveals that acrylamide exposure may increase the risk of cancer. In fact, various chemical toxicology and cancer research groups –  including the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have classified the chemical as probable human carcinogen. Previous studies have shown that acrylamide may raise the odds of developing certain types of cancer such as kidney, endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Science Daily article has also found that the chemical is detrimental to the central nervous system’s overall health. According to the article, prolonged industrial exposure to the cumulative neurotoxin may result in nerve damage, muscle weakness and impaired muscle coordination. The entry also reveals that persistent dietary exposure may damage nerve cells in the brain, which in turn may lead to the development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Likewise, an article posted on the Health with Food website stresses that acrylamide exposure may result in feeling of numbness in the hands and feet, reduced fertility and serious peripheral nervous system damage. According to the article, the chemical’s neurotoxic effects may be due in part to its ability to inhibit nerve impulse transmission by disrupting nitric oxide signals. Furthermore, a Pub Chem entry shows that acrylamide exposure may result in severe skin irritation and eye damage. The chemical is also found to compromise the respiratory system’s overall health.

Body systems affected by acrylamide

Acrylamide is notoriously harmful to both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Likewise, the chemical may compromise both muscular and reproductive health. The hazardous compound is also detrimental to the respiratory tract, the skin and the eyes.

Items that can contain acrylamide

Acrylamide is often found in high levels in coffee, cereal grain products – such as breakfast cereals, cookies and toast – and potato products including fries and chips. The chemical can also be traced in prunes, rye bread and unsweetened cocoa. Smoking is a major cause of acrylamide accumulation as well. In addition, the chemical is a widely used agent in the production of adhesives, dyes and fabrics.

How to avoid acrylamide

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends adopting a healthy diet plan to reduce the risk of acrylamide exposure. The FDA advises that people follow a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products. Likewise, the guidelines suggest consuming lean meats, poultry and fish as well as beans, eggs and nuts. The FDA also recommends adhering to a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

Experts also recommend that people adjust their cooking time to prevent acrylamide accumulation, as the chemical forms as a result of prolonged heat exposure during the cooking process. Moreover, it is advisable to consider other cooking methods such as boiling and microwaving. Quitting smoking is also a surefire way to reduce the risk of acrylamide exposure.

Where to learn more


Acrylamide may raise the odds of kidney, endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Acrylamide causes nerve damage, muscle weakness and impaired muscle coordination.

Acrylamide exposure results in peripheral nervous system damage and Alzheimer’s disease.

Acrylamide reduces fertility and causes skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation.

Acrylamide is harmful to both the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Acrylamide may compromise both muscular and reproductive health.

Acrylamide may negatively impact skin, eye and respiratory health.


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