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From: B. Harris)
Newsgroups: sci.physics,misc.consumers,,
Subject: Where There's Smoke (was Re: Microwave oven - big fight over process)
Date: 1 Oct 1999 04:16:41 GMT

In <7t0jf5$dvm$>
(Katie Schwarz) writes:

>Jim Carr <> wrote:
>> writes:
>>>(It is worth noting here that the reason that so many
>>>Asians get esophagal cancer is the build-up of nitrates
>>>in their cooking oil when they fry so much food over
>>>smoky fires.)
>> It is also true that all cooking alters the food chemically,
>> and the same tests that show nasty new things in microwaved
>> food will also show those things in food cooked other ways,
>> not just from smoky fires.
>*Are* there tests that show nasty new things in microwaved food?  I
>know I've read articles in Science News about nasty cancer-promoting
>things formed by grilling.  They had weird names like "IQ", something
>like that.  Dr. Steve Harris might know.


   Yes, microwave ovens don't heat food as hot, so you lose fewer
vitamins, but also don't get those nice brown caramelized,
charbroiled, glazed tastes which are in fact Maillard reaction
products of aldehyde ends of reducing-sugars, creatine, lysine
amino groups, etc.  What food chemists spend all their time
wishing they could make cheaply.  What your creme brule' cook
does with that brandy or that propane torch, in the back room.
Basically, they are hydrazides which go on to form other more
stable nasties, chiefly the ones you are thinking of, the
heterocyclic amines.  The "IQ" you're referring to is one of
those-- an aminomethylImidazoQuinoline, say that three times

    All these things, plus the polycyclic aromatics, seems to
stick into your DNA like a slug sticking in a vending machine,
and that's not good.  For then the strand breaks and the cell
maybe mutates trying to fix it.  This first aldose-amine
condensation reaction even happens at normal temps in your body--
you're always fixing up glycated Maillard products before they go
on to become yellow gunk which your cells can't get rid of.
"Advanced glycosylation end products," also known as "AGE"
products-- how's that for a snappy ad campaign for a scientific
theory which hasn't been proven?  But whether or not caramelizing
your arteries ages you, the end result is sort of the same, so I
suppose in that sense it doesn't matter.  Pay attention to your
blood sugars as you would your cholesterol.  In the end, you'll
thank me.  The threshold for the diagnosis of diabetes keeps
going down, year after year, as they find more effects of chronic
high sugars.

   Sure, if you were a parakeet or bat you'd have a glucose of 2
or 3 times what you do, and metabolically live several times
longer, true enough.  But that's because Ma Nature invests a lot
less repair energy in critters with brains than critters with
something really useful, like wings.  Though brains get us some
metabolic time, to be sure.  You win some, you lose some.

   And yes, I think all this taste for smoked barbecued this and
grilled that, a nasty part of the human condition, which seems to
include one pleiotropic tendency after another.  A pleiotropic
tendency being one that has good effects when you're young and
bad effects when you're old, but nature selects for it because
evolution (Mother Nature, bless Her Crone-ish Heart) cares
whether you survive when you're young, and but not much later.
So you get gifts like your taste for fat and calories.  And in
this case, I think a genuine built-in taste for products of fire.
Which we've lived with for a million years-- as long as it took
for grizzlies to become polar bears.  You don't think your
tastebuds can change a bit?  Yes it's long enough to have genetic
tastes for it.   Goodness knows, animals that eat meat don't
really care one way or the other if it's cooked.  But all humans
seems to.  Fire makes us powerful, and we're programmed to like
it the way we monkeys are programmed to like sugar, fruit
flavors, and cola nuts.  And pretty colors.  Fire and fire smells
and sights attract us like catnip.

    I have a little just-so theory that one of the too little
understood reasons we die early of smoking (which a fifth of the
world's present population eventually will) is not just the
nicotine, but also has a lot to do with the reason everybody
laughs at: taste.  The taste you don't get from the gum or the
patch, or the pen in your mouth, or whatever.  "I smoke for
taste," haha.  You don't laugh at me, doctor, when I say I eat
smoked ham for the taste, or smoked fish, or smoked barbecue
sauce to grill this and that.  And got rid of my microwave, and
bought a grill.   Or got a grill element in my microwave.  Hah.
So, if I'm your patient, why is my habit of sucking smoke so
funny?  You'd predict it, as a humane and knowledgeable doctor.
Would you not?  I eat fat and sugar for the taste too, don't you
know.   My cat couldn't care less about sugar, and strange to
tell, doesn't sit and stare stupidly into camp fires.  Why is
that, doctor?  You say you don't?  Right.  I'll bet you do, too.
And like to smell autumn leaves burning....   And stuff that
smells like that.  Maybe even gas fumes, who knows?  My son's a
doctor and I'm afraid that didn't make him a saint...

   Sure, I know there's a price to pay.  Isn't the subtitle of
Frankenstein "A Modern Prometheus"?  And what did Prometheus do?
I forget.  But you pay for trying to use that kind of power.

"Science, true daughter of old Time thou art,
Who alterest all things with thy peering gaze--
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart?
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities....."

   Or is it the poet's liver?  And probably raw liver, too.


   So yes, to answer your question, frying is bad for you
eventually.  As are a lot of things you like to do, El Charro.
And for good reason.   Drink your green tea, take your vitamin C
and E, and selenium, and cross your fingers.  And your legs.  And
stop that snacking on snack foods.  Eat a vegetable.

   For what it's worth historically as trivia, the first
epidemiologic link to cancer was indeed to a fire carcinogen-- a
bunch of polycyclic aromatics, no doubt--- but not to those in
cigarette smoke.  Rather, the connection occurs in Sir Percival
Potts' classic 19th century study of the incidence of scrotal
cancer among London chimney sweeps.  You think I'm making this
up, but I'm not.  This is not the world of Mary Poppins...

Chim chimeny, chim chimeny
Chim chim charee
A Sweep is as lucky, as lucky can be--
Chim chimeny, chim chimeny
Chim chim, charooo--
And lucky is `ee, if `e's still got `is two...


Chim chimeny chim chim.
Charreee, chim chaaarrrr oooooooooooh....

From: "Steve Harris" <>
Newsgroups: sci.physics,alt.lasers,sci.electronics,,
Subject: Re: Microwave-emitting Food
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 12:44:20 -0600
Message-ID: <aeqjrj$sul$>

"TutAmongUs@theholeintheground" <TutAmongUs@theheartofthecheopspyramid.hol>
wrote in message
> On Wed, 19 Jun 2002 09:59:57 +0100, "Dirk Bruere"
> <> Gave us:
> >And we are in direct line of descent, inheriting their genetics including
> >tolerance/preference for cooked food.
> >
>   Tolerance, yes.  Preference, no.

I beg to differ. And it never became more clear than when microwave cooking
became available, and people simply rejected the idea of never again eating
anything that hadn't been brazed, broiled, charred, smoked, browned,
caramelized, and whatnot. Forget the number of backyard barbecue grills that
there are (1 for every 3 families last I looked)-- do you know how many
TOASTERS there are in this country?  Now: WHY?  What does a bread toaster

In Germany toast is called Zweiback-- literally "twice baked." Can you name
me ANY country where people use fire but don't traditionally like to put at
least some already cooked things into the fire to improve their flavor by
toasting the outsides?

Characteristics of humans: tool-using and making, complex language, body
adornment, incest taboo, etc.

And I'll add one more: we like to toast and grill stuff. Not just boil and
cook in water where you get no browning products.  Toast and grill and
broil. If it's in every culture, you have to suspect the proclivity (like
our species' sweet-tooth) is in our genes.


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