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Swedish Scientists Find Cancer Agent in
Staple Foods

Tue Apr 23, 5:32 PM ET
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Scientists in Sweden have found high levels of a substance believed to cause cancer in staple foods eaten by millions of people around the world, such as bread, rice and potatoes, Swedish media reported on Tuesday.

Research carried out by scientists at Stockholm University's department of environmental chemistry showed starch, a carbohydrate found in cereals and potatoes, transforms into acrylamide when heated up, the daily newspaper Expressen reported on its Internet Web site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) classifies acrylamide, a colorless, crystalline solid, as a medium hazard probable human carcinogen.

Detailed findings of the Stockholm University pilot study would be made public at a news conference on Wednesday called by Sweden's National Food Administration.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide induces gene mutations and has been found in animal tests to cause benign and malignant stomach tumors.

It is also known to cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous system. Swedish TV4 television news said the researchers who made the discovery (news - web sites) spoke of "enormous global consequences for food production and consumption."

Expressen quoted Eva Buren, a spokeswoman at leading Swedish supermarket chain ICA, as saying representatives of the company and other big food stores attended a "crisis meeting" on Tuesday at which a list of products which might contain the carcinogen were reviewed.

Buren said Sweden's National Food Administration, whose representatives also attended the meeting, had not decided to remove any products from shelves, the paper said.


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