Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nonstickware and Cancer

There is now a huge debate on whether compounds in nonstick cookware may be carcinogens (for more, see this story in the NYTimes (free registration required). Some tips to reduce the risks cited by the story:

- "Use Teflon pans at lower temperatures, and never put them on the stove to heat without food or liquid inside." This is interesting, because it suggests I may be doing two things wrong. I often pre-heat the pan before pouring oil (BAD!) and also usually run the range on high to cut cooking time (BAD! BAD!)

- Another solution is to cook the old-fashioned way. If cast iron pans are seasoned and heated properly, very little oil is needed for browning. OK, this didnt make sense to me. Why does it matter that less oil is needed, especially if the toxic compounds are from the Teflon rather than the oil? Or is it that the oil is needed to burn the Teflon (contradicts the previous bullet)

- Greasy food that is heated in a microwave oven in a cardboard container is a potential source of PFOA; take the food out of the container and heat it in glass or ceramic. So reheating your pizza in that cardboard box is OUT!

Hopefully they will figure all this out soon, but it does highlight how little we know about the chemicals we interact with. I'd be interesting in seeing if anyone has been able to determine if we have a higher true incidence of cancer than in the past (I use "true" to distinguish from increased incidence due to increased screening and reporting)

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