Heat-damaged DNA in high-temperature cooked food can cause cancer

Food DNA could be a source of genetic harm in our diets.

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High-temperature cooking has been related to various health hazards, including colorectal and pancreatic cancer, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Colorectal and pancreatic cancer, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease have all been linked to red meat, frequently cooked at high temperatures. Vegetables are also linked to an increased risk of sickness.

Researchers have discovered a surprising and potentially important factor that contributes to the increased risk of cancer associated with consuming foods often cooked at high temperatures, such as red meat and deep-fried dishes.

The food’s DNA, which may have been harmed by cooking, is the supposed perpetrator. Components of heat-damaged DNA can be ingested during digestion and incorporated into the DNA of the consumer, according to research done by Stanford scientists and their associates at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Maryland, and Colorado State University.

The consumer’s DNA is directly harmed by this absorption, which may cause genetic changes that ultimately cause cancer and other disorders. The results could have significant ramifications for food decisions and general public health, even though it is too soon to conclude that this occurs in humans.

Only in lab-grown cells and mice did the study find that heat-damaged DNA component absorption and enhanced DNA harm.

Study senior author Eric Kool, the George A. and Hilda M. Daubert Professor in Chemistry at the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, said, “We have shown that cooking can damage DNA in food, and have discovered that consumption of this DNA may be a source of genetic risk, Building upon these findings could change our perceptions of food preparation and food choices.”

Many studies relate charred and fried foods to DNA damage, attributing the damage to specific tiny chemicals that produce so-called reactive species in the body.

According to Kool, the small molecules created in regular cooking are many thousands of times smaller than the quantity of DNA found naturally in meals.

The findings of a study conducted by Stanford University academics and their partners are essential details in this article.

The study discovered that when boiled or roasted, all three items demonstrated DNA damage and that greater temperatures caused DNA damage in nearly all cases.

The researcher said, “We don’t doubt that the small molecules identified in prior studies are dangerous. But what has never been documented before our study is the potentially large quantities of heat-damaged DNA available for uptake into a consumer’s DNA.”

The researchers also discovered that even boiling, a relatively modest cooking temperature, caused DNA damage and that potatoes, for example, suffered less DNA damage at higher temperatures than meat. This suggests that damaged food DNA can cause harm to other DNA downstream in consumers, indicating an effective mechanism for damaged food DNA to cause harm to other DNA downstream in consumers.

The two most common types of DNA damage involved a nucleotide component containing cytosine converting chemically to uracil and the addition of oxygen to another substance called guanine.

Kool’s team exposed lab-grown cells and gave mice a fluid containing high heat-damaged DNA components. The DNA damage in the lab-grown cells was severe due to taking up heat-damaged DNA components, whereas the mice revealed major DNA damage in the cells lining the small intestine. The team intends to dig deeper into these preliminary findings, testing a wider range of meals and investigating cooking methods that imitate various culinary preparations.

The scope of studies will need to be expanded to include the long-term, lower doses of heat-damaged DNA that are likely to be consumed in average human diets over decades. The study raises concerns about an undiscovered but potentially significant chronic health risk associated with eating meals grilled, fried, or otherwise treated at high temperatures.

The researcher said, “Our study raises a lot of questions about an entirely unexplored, yet possibly substantial chronic health risk from eating foods that are grilled, fried, or otherwise prepared with high heat, We don’t yet know where these initial findings will lead, and we invite the wider research community to build upon them.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Erdem Coskun,Takamitsu A. Kato, et al. Possible Genetic Risks from Heat-Damaged DNA in Food.ACS Central Science.DOI:10.1021/acscentsci.2c01247

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