Author Topic: Char and carcinogens  (Read 203 times)

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Offline ErinM

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Char and carcinogens
« on: Yesterday at 12:24:36 AM »
I'm starting a mobile WFO business and am someone who likes to be conscious of the health implications of food. I want char!!! I want a beautifully spotted crust! But if black on pizza crust equals carcinogens then I'm going to have to rethink how far I push the char because I'd rather less pretty (and less tasty) pizza, than to be increasing the risk of cancer in my kids and the general public.

I did a little research and couldn't find a definitive answer (or maybe I'm avoiding the definitive answer...). I'm hoping the dough doctor and other experts in this rich forum might be able to shine a light on the subject for me.

Thank you kindly.


Offline DNA Dan

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 01:18:08 AM »
There is growing evidence that consuming badly burned food is not good for you. Two popular chemicals is formation of Heterocyclic amines (HCA) primarily from creatine in meats (which is also in preserved meats, pepperoni, salami, etc.) and acrylamide formation from asparagine commonly found in starchy foods, breads, etc. Exposure and biological disposition are going to determine just how much this would add to someone "getting cancer" from eating badly burned foods. I mean are we talking charred pizzas every day with a side of smoked BBQ meat? You have to keep the exposure in context. Breathing polluted air is also bad for you and contains some cancer causing chemicals as well. The bottom line is eat it in moderation just like anything else.

Offline Donjo911

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 01:59:37 AM »
There is growing evidence that consuming badly burned food is not good for you. Two popular chemicals is formation of Heterocyclic amines (HCA) primarily from creatine in meats (which is also in preserved meats, pepperoni, salami, etc.) and acrylamide formation from asparagine commonly found in starchy foods, breads, etc. Exposure and biological disposition are going to determine just how much this would add to someone "getting cancer" from eating badly burned foods. I mean are we talking charred pizzas every day with a side of smoked BBQ meat? You have to keep the exposure in context. Breathing polluted air is also bad for you and contains some cancer causing chemicals as well. The bottom line is eat it in moderation just like anything else.

It's possible that the poster may be right.  (the fact that DNA Dan and his early RTP clones are the reason I found this place, withstanding)  However I would argue that we all have a latent recessive gene that may cause an illness. I would argue that the impact of food stuff has largely less impact than genetics, environment, and  heredity.  You only get to be here once *unless you are a Hindu* so, do what you care, but don't make broad and unproven comments based on a personal bias. Radiation kills people. Do you see that masses running for shelter when the sun comes out?!  Raw vegetables kill people too when processed improperly. Cheese is mold that can cause illness,  animal fat will kill you.  News bulletin - life will kill you. That is kinda the point.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:01:59 AM by Donjo911 »
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Offline ErinM

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 03:33:45 AM »
I understand the moderation thing, but as my kids will likely get more pizza than the average (healthy pizza of course ;) ) then I don't want to increase their risk of cancer. I just saw my nephew go through chemo for leukaemia over the last few years so it is all very real to me. I'm not trying to start a debate on the subject. Just looking for clear answers to base my decisions on.

I don't see these things as extreme as 'if you eat it you will "get cancer"' but in that they increase your risk. For someone already in a high risk category, avoiding things that further increase risk is a good idea. If you can have a full and wonderful life (of course by that I mean eat great food as often as possible ;) ) and still keep your risk low, then why not.

Having said that, to have found out today that smoked food goes in this category... well... I died a little bit inside. But I'll deal with it. ;) In moderation.

Thank you both for your responses. They're helpful.

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 09:09:32 AM »
If you want to minimize you children's exposure to acrylamide, definitely no more french fries or potato chips as they tend to have the highest concentrations of any food.

Minimizing/eliminating the higher concentration items that is one thing, however it's what you do every day that defines your long-term exposure. If you are serious about limiting their risk, the only method you should use to prepare food at home is boiling.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline DNA Dan

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 06:01:15 PM »
Erin, Sorry to hear about your nephew. Hopefully he is finished with treatment and won't need to see a hospital for a long time.

In the realm of things that increase your risk of cancer, no one on this planet is going to defnitively tell you one thing has more impact than another when you're talking about a 0.000000001% contribution. Certainly the big things like X-rays, nuclear waste, the sun, etc. are easy to rule out, but it's these smaller things that get lumped into "everything kills you". I think most people draw a line in the sand with just how impactful something is likely to cause cancer so they avoid them, but for the rest of these trivial things they just let the chips fall where they may and perhaps moderate their exposure by limiting their indulgences. (Alcohol, Sun tanning, etc.) You certainly cannot live your life in a cave and I would doubt you want to raise your kids to be fearful of living a fruitful life (Which may expose them sometimes to danger.)

Here's another take on it: Many people have contributed to the creation and development of wood fired pizza to what it is today. This process has been taught from one generation to the next. It taps into our most primitive instincts of creation and has been elevated to being an art. The lessons in learning this from a parent, not just as a recipe, but as an art of creation is worth more than any risk they might be getting from carcinogens. In other words, the enjoyment they (and you) will gain out of learning and spending time with you is worth more in memories than any hit they may take in carcinogens. In my personal opinion, eating charred pizza does not really raise your risk. You have to understand too that our level of detection and the sensitivity of measurements in science is much greater today that it was yesterday. Stuff that wasn't bad for us yesterday (aka smoking) is dreadfully terrible today. I know it sounds cliche, but everything is relative.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 06:03:55 PM by DNA Dan »

Offline AnonymousPizza

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Char and carcinogens
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 09:03:22 PM »
This is something I've worried about too.

I'd love to see results from studies on this. Unfortunately I have none to share.

I do have this to say. The human body is not as 'fragile' as people like to think. It has evolved with the environment for hundreds of thousands of years (this is true, regardless of your beliefs about where we originally came from). When I bite into an apple, receptors in my body 'designed' to fit with compounds in the apple, compounds that have been there for, again, hundreds of thousands of years, start working. It may make me feel good...or it may tell me that this was a bad apple, and I'll feel sick. But it won't do anything weird, it won't mess with my DNA. I won't get cancer.

This is the reason that GMOs and synthetic chemicals in today's food worries me. 50 years ago, all food was organic. We didn't need a label. Now, the list of ingredients in a McDonald's meal includes compounds that didn't exist in the past century.

What effects do all these new compounds have? We have no idea...and that is the point. That's why, imo, it seems that a new study every day finds out that something new is, actually, a carcinogen.

Long story short (because some of that was really off-topic), I try to use this philosophy when considering health effects of foods, or anything. Is char a carcinogen? Maybe so...but I really do doubt it's more of a risk than, say, constantly walking in a sea of radiation from our cell towers and wifi. Or even driving in a car every day. A stretch with this example - but again, cars have not evolved along with humans. We use them regularly now, and the result? It's one of the leading causes of death, period.

But char? I'd like to think our ancestors didn't start killing themselves when they learned to control fire.

Bottom line: Ignore everything I said, except the second sentence. Listen to the studies. Does anyone have any?
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 09:15:37 PM by AnonymousPizza »
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Offline AnonymousPizza

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 09:27:01 PM »
Btw, I've thought about this because I've been eating pizza crust like this.
I've come back for you, to remind you of something. Something you once knew.
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Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Char and carcinogens
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 10:55:10 PM »
Anonymous,  please tell me you are joking,  and not for health reasons? -marc