The Chance of Developing Lung Cancer Increases if you Cook with Gas

November 12, 2012

The Chance of Developing Lung Cancer Increases if you Cook with Gas

A study reports that gas hobs release more carcinogenic fumes into the atmosphere than electric hobs .

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have just completed a study which supports the view of the International Agency for Research on Cancer that cooking on a hob increases your risk of developing cancer. The IARC has given cooking fumes the classification of ‘probably carcinogenic’ and the University of Science and Technology went one step further and identified that cooking on gas hobs produce more carcinogenic fumes than cooking on their

electric equivalents. The results of the study have been published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Scientists have been aware that cooking fumes do have an ingredient that heightens the risk of cancer to the person cooking. China has a high rate of lung cancer amongst chefs, believed to be caused by throwing food into very hot woks in relatively small kitchens. The chef inhales more of the fumes from hot oils with every meal cooked, normally in smaller unventilated kitchens.

The argument that cooking at high temperature can be carcinogenic is further backed up by data from Taiwan. Here, as in many other countries lung cancer is a major killer and most sufferers are smokers. Yet in Taiwan 86% of males with lung cancer are smokers but only 10% of female lung cancer sufferers smoke. Scientists who have researched the situation take the view that the high incidence of lung cancer in non smoking women is because they are the ones that do most of the cooking, and are subjected to cooking fumes on a regular basis.

So if you do like your meat and vegetables done in a hot wok or seared to perfection then make sure that you are cooking in a well ventilated area to minimize your risk of developing cancer in the future, and avoid gas if possible.

The tests performed by the researchers measured the vapors produced when cooking seventeen pieces of steak. The steaks were all the same size and same type of meat and the cooking area was similar to a standard restaurant found in the West. Margarine and two different types of soya oil were used to fry the meat.

Napthalene, which is a banned substance, was found to have been produced during the cooking process. Apart from the naphthalene, commonly found in mothballs, mutagenic aldehydes and increased amounts of ultrafine particles were discovered if cooking was done on a gas hob.

The researchers acknowledge that the levels of the dangerous substances found fall below the present occupational health standards for safety. However they say that there may be other, as yet undiscovered, substances produced during the cooking process which do not have a safety threshold designated yet. As a matter of course they recommend, “Exposure to cooking fumes should be reduced as much as possible”.

Earlier studies have found that chefs who work in kitchens with no fume extraction equipment have a higher incidence of cancers, not only lung cancer but also cancer of the bladder and cervix, leading scientists to speculate that cooking fumes may be a link.

A further study carried out by researchers from the Institute of Medicine at Kaohsiung University in Taiwan has found that women who spend the longest time cooking have the highest risk of developing lung cancer. The findings have been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2000 and showed that those in the highest risk group were the women who cooked food daily. It was also noted that those who threw the food into extremely hot pans had the highest risk of cancer compared to those who cooked with less intense heat.

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