Can I Still Eat Tortilla Chips?

According to this study

Acrylamide is a carcinogen apparently.

Now obviously tortilla chips aren’t healthy either way, but they’re one of my few vices (I don’t drink, smoke, over-eat, etc.) According to the study potato chips are carcinogenic, but is there any data in that study that I haven’t seen (or interpreted correctly) that woud indicate it is unsafe to eat tortilla chips?

Until then, I’m declaring a personal moritorioum on tortilla chips.

everything in moderation

but then again carcingens have no safe level of exposure.

Tortilla chips made from a grain product would be considered a type of cereal. One thing that’s hardly brought up is how many chips/fries/etc. it would take to cause cancer in a human; unless eat several thousand chips in your lifetime you should be safe.

Um, Jeff, it doesn’t seem to me that several thousand chips in a lifeime is at all extreme. There’s at least several hundred in a bag, and personally, I go through a bag every week or two.

There’s really nothing to worry about unless you’ve eaten over 10 chips in one sitting.

Surely, the risk of cancer from chips is tiny compared with the risk of heart/colon/obesity problems from a high-chip diet. It’s worth avoiding chips, but not for fear of some 1-in-a-million or whatever chance of cancer.

I think the crap people put over their chips is probably more of a health risk.

My point was that nobody knows exactly how many chips/fries/etc. one would have to eat to get cancer, it could be several thousand per day for a lifetime. Hell, those scientists evidently aren’t even certain that acrylamide really does cause cancer in humans, they just say it’s “a possible carcinogen”.

Oh, several thousand a day for a lifetime! That’s a different matter entirely. You had originally said several thousand over the entire lifespan, which I imagine most folks far exceed.

According to this article,2933,51186,00.html
by Stephen Milloy (of fame). One would have to eat a lot of chips to be in danger.

According to Milloy if one assumed that acrylamide was a carcinogen for humans, which has not been proven yet, and scaled up the risk level for rats to average human weight one would have to eat 35 000 chips per day. Sounds a bit more than the average consumption to me.

So at what point is something considered a “carcinogen”? Won’t many, many chemicals “cause cancer” if consumed in ludicrous quantities?

Yeah, that’s what I was using a reference in my previous posts. I just couldn’t find any links at the time.

  1. All of the commonly found real carcinogens have been found – like asbestos. They were easy to find.

The ones that are being discovered now are weak carcinogens, for example they may cause cancer in 1 out of 100,000 people who come in contact with it. Very minor risk (unless you are the one!).

Should you avoid such a small risk? How will it affect your lifestyle? Will slowing down 1 mpg on the highway protect you even more? Will taking one less car trip to the grocery store a year protect you more?

Every thing you do has risk. Low level carcinogens are in there, but low on the scale.

  1. How do you measure something that effects only 1/100,000 people? If you study 100,000 each in a control group and a test group, you might not even get a single case of cancer. And if you do, how do you extrapolate from a single case?

The way you do is to a) not use people and b) give megadoses.

So, will people get cancer because rats do? Maybe.

More importantly, will a megadose give proportional, linear results?

What I mean, is say 1000mg are given to rats, and the result is extrapolated to mean 1000 cancers per 100,000 people. So, the reasoning goes, because people are exposed to 1mg, you get 1 cancer per 100,000.

But this assumes linearity – if 1000mg causes 1000 cancers, then 500 causes 500, and 1 causes 1. But people may have tolerance for small amounts, but less tolerance for large amounts. So, if the 1000/1000 is correct, it may turn out that 500mg causes only 50 cancers, and 1mg causes 0.00001.

This is not unreasonable. Salt will kill anyone if eaten in large quantities. But at half that dose, hardly anyone will die. At normal rates of consumption, it kills no one (unless you consider the effects on people with hypertension).

But it’s very difficult to measure how carcinogenic a weak carcinogenic substance is at different (especially low) levels. So most of the time when you hear about numbers like 1/20,000 people will get cancer, it’s usually a worst case scenario and may well be inflated.

Glilly is right, that dosage isn’t neccesarily linear. But the non-linearity can work the opposite way. Meaning that taking twice the amount of carcinogen might not double your chance of getting cancer but only increase it by 50%.

And then you have to consider that each low-level carcinogen might be a very low risk in and of itself, but that we are possibly exposed to thousands of different low-level carcinogens. Do they interact with each other? Does the presence of carcinogen A make carcinogen B more dangerous? No one knows of course.

But we still have to measure risk. People have a very poor intuitive understanding of risk. Every day people play the lottery, exchanging $1 for a 1 in a million chance of winning $500,000. That’s bad statistics! People often worry about trivial risks while ignoring large ones. Choose to: wear your seatbelt, quit smoking, stop shooting heroin, stop drinking, exercise a bit every day, and stop overeating. Oh, and read a good book now and then. Any one of those changes would drastically improve your health.