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French Fries and Cancer

There has been a growing body of scientific evidence of a link between French fries and cancer. Back in 2002, researchers in Stockholm announced that they had found acrylamide in French fries. This is a very dangerous substance that is…

There has been a growing body of scientific evidence of a link between French fries and cancer. Back in 2002, researchers in Stockholm announced that they had found acrylamide in French fries. This is a very dangerous substance that is apparently caused by heating the fat in the foods to very high temperature, as happens when French fries (and other foods) are deep-fried.

In August 2005, a long-term study found that children who ate French fries have a much higher risk of breast cancer as adults. Many people (including my wife) scoffed at this study (or, rather, at the reporting of this study), because the mechanism by which French fries cause cancer was not discussed.

Finally, on Friday, CNN reported that the State of California filed suit against McDonald’s and Wendy’s for selling French fries without a warning. Under a 1986 California law, any organization that sells foods or other products that contain unsafe chemicals needs to alert the public.

The CNN report has Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Kay Puryear saying:

“Acrylamide is available whether those foods are prepared in a restaurant, at home or by the packaged goods industry,” she said. “We stand behind, and absolutely think, our products are as safe as ever.”

That’s the point, of course. These products are “as safe as ever” – which is to say, they are not very safe. They significantly increase the risk of cancer. If only I had known…

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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