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Acrylamide in food: is there a health risk?

 

Glossary over Acrylamide in food: is there a health risk?

Absorption

The process of taking in. For a person or an animal, absorption is the process of a substance getting into the body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Adverse health effect

A change in body function or cell structure that might lead to disease or health problems. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Amino acid(s)

An amino acid molecule has the general formula NH2CHRCOOH, where "R" is any one of a number of side groups. Amino acids are building blocks (small molecules that link together to form long chains) of proteins.

There are 20 amino acids found in proteins, called primary amino acids. Non-essential amino acids are those made by the human body, while essential amino acids are only obtained from protein in the foods that we eat. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Biologic intake

The process by which a substance crosses the outer boundary of an organism without passing an absorption barrier, e.g. through ingestion or inhalation. (Source: US EPA glossary )

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Biomarker

  1. Indicator signaling an event or condition in a biological system or sample and giving a measure of exposure, effect, or susceptibility. As related to biomonitoring, a biomarker is the presence of any substance, or a change in any biological structure or process that can be measured as a result of exposure. Many biomonitoring studies focus on chemical substances or their metabolites as biomarkers.
  2. Parameter that can be used to identify an effect in an individual organism and can be used in extrapolation between species for risk assessment.
(Source: BIOMONITORING Info Glossary  )

Bone

The dense, living tissue that makes up the skeleton of humans and vertebrate animals.

Mature bones are made up of three types of tissue: compact tissue (the hard outer portion of most bones); cancellous tissue (spongy tissue inside the bones that contains bone marrow, which makes blood cells); and subchondral tissue (smooth bone tissue of the joints).

Cancellous tissue, also known as cancellous bone, spongy bone or trabecular bone, is characterized by its spongy, porous, honeycomb-like structure and is typically found at the ends of long bones. Compact tissue is also known as hard bone, compact bone or compact cortical bone. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Cancer

Any one of a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body become abnormal and have the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby tissues and other parts of the body (malignancy). (Source: GreenFacts )

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Cancer risk

A theoretical risk for getting cancer if exposed to a substance every day for 70 years (a lifetime exposure). The true risk might be lower. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Carcinogen

A substance, factor or situation that causes or induces cancer. (Source: GreenFacts )

Cataract

A clouding of the natural lens of the eye most frequently caused by ageing that can severely blur vision. (Source: GreenFacts)

Cell

The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Chromosome

One of the threadlike "packages" of genes and other DNA in the nucleus of a cell. Different kinds of organisms have different numbers of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, 46 in all: 44 autosomes and two sex chromosomes. Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair, so children get half of their chromosomes from their mothers and half from their fathers. (Source: NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )

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Circulatory system

The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels and moves blood throughout the body. This system helps tissues get enough oxygen and nutrients, and it helps them get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system. (Source: NCI Dictionary of cancer terms  )

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Compound(s)

A material made up of two or more elements combined in a fixed ratio. (Source: CoRIS glossary  )

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Concentration

The amount of a chemical or substance present in a particular quantity of soil, water, air, food, blood, hair, urine, breath, or any other media. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Digestive tract

The digestive tract is the system of organs which takes in food, digests it to extract energy and nutrients and expels remaining waste. It includes the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.

After food is chewed and swallowed, the digestive juices released by the pancreas and stomach break it down into substances that are readily absorbed through the small intestine. Material that is not taken up by the body collects in the large intestine, forming faecal matter that is then excreted through the anus. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Dose

The amount of a substance to which a person is exposed over some time period. Dose is a measurement of exposure. Dose is often expressed as milligram (amount) per kilogram (a measure of body weight) per day (a measure of time) when people eat or drink contaminated water, food, or soil. In general, the greater the dose, the greater the likelihood of an effect. An "exposure dose" is how much of a substance is encountered in the environment. An "absorbed dose" is the amount of a substance that actually got into the body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Endometrial tissue

The layer of tissue that lines the uterus. (Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms  )

Endpoint

A biological endpoint is a direct marker of disease progression - e.g. disease symptoms or death - used to describe a health effect (or a probability of that health effect) resulting from exposure to a chemical. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Epidemiological studies

Studies on human populations, which attempt to link human health effects (e.g. cancer) to a cause (e.g. exposure to a specific chemical). (Source: GreenFacts)

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European Food Safety Authority

"Following a series of food scares in the 1990s (eg BSE, dioxins…) which undermined consumer confidence in the safety of the food chain, the European Union concluded that it needed to establish a new scientific body charged with providing independent and objective advice on food safety issues associated with the food chain. Its primary objective as set out in the White Paper on Food Safety would be to: “…contribute to a high level of consumer health protection in the area of food safety, through which consumer confidence can be restored and maintained.” The result was the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Set up provisionally in Brussels in 2002, EFSA provides independent scientific advice on all matters linked to food and feed safety - including animal health and welfare and plant protection - and provides scientific advice on nutrition in relation to Community legislation. The Authority communicates to the public in an open and transparent way on all matters within its remit. EFSA’s risk assessments provide risk managers (consisting of EU institutions with political accountability, i.e. European Commission, European Parliament and Council) with a sound scientific basis for defining policy driven legislative or regulatory measures required to ensure a high level of consumer protection with regards to food safety." (Source: EFSA website )

Eye

Main components of the human eye include:

The retina - Light-sensitive layer at the back of the eyeball onto which incoming light is focused. It contains cells that respond to colours, different shades of grey, and movement. These cells trigger nerve impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed.

The cornea - The dome-shaped, transparent layer that forms the front of the eyeball. It bends light entering the eye into the lens, and hence helps to focus images onto the retina. It contains no blood vessels and is extremely sensitive to pain.

The lens - Transparent elastic structure situated behind the pupil of the eye that focuses incoming light onto the retina. Muscles in the eye can adjust the shape of the lens and make it more flattened to focus on distant objects, or make it more rounded to focus on near objects.

The vitreous humour - The transparent jelly-like substance that fills the eyeball between the lens and the retina. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Foetus

The embryo is referred to as a foetus after it has reached a certain stage of organ development (in humans this is eight weeks after conception). (Source: CSIRO Glossary of terms  )

Forestomach (in rats)

One of the two parts of the rat’s stomach. The forestomach is directly connected to the oesophagus and contains no glands. It serves as a holding chamber for food and is perhaps best compared to a pouch in the oesophagus, as opposed to a true stomach.

While humans do not have a forestomach, they do have comparable tissues in the mouth and the upper part of the oesophagus. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Ratbehavior.org  )

Genes

The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. (Source: NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )

Genotoxic

Toxic (damaging) to DNA. Substances that are genotoxic may bind directly to DNA or act indirectly leading to DNA damage by affecting enzymes involved in DNA replication, thereby causing mutations which may or may not lead to cancer or birth defects (inheritable damage). Genotoxic substances are not necessarily carcinogenic. (Source: GreenFacts)

Haemoglobin

A protein found in the red blood cells [of most vertebrates] that is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Haemoglobin picks up the oxygen in the lungs, and then releases it in the muscles and other tissues where it is needed. Haemoglobin also contains iron which is critical for it to work properly. (Source: Janssen-Cilag UK Ltd ; Ortho Biotech GLOSSARY  )

Hormone(s)

Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and then sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function. (Source: EMCOM Endocrine disruptors glossary  )

Incidence

The frequency of a disease may be measured in two (standard) ways:

- Incidence is the number of new cases detected in the population at risk for the disease during a specific period.

- Prevalence (Source: Health canada Diabetes in Canada  )

Inflammation

Inflammation is the reaction of living tissues to infection, irritation or other injury. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Liver

The liver is a big reddish-brow organ lying beneath the diaphragm on the right side. The liver is made up for a great part of liver cells which absorb nutrients and detoxify and remove harmful substances from the blood such as drugs and alcohol. The liver has many other vital functions and there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver.

Other liver functions include:

  • controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood
  • fighting infections in the body, particularly infections arising in the bowel.
  • manufacturing bile, a kind of digestive juice which aids in the digestion of fats
  • storing iron, certain vitamins and other essential chemicals
  • breaking down food and turning it into energy
  • manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones
  • making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues.
Metabolism

The conversion or breakdown of a substance from one form to another by an enzyme. (Source: GreenFacts, based on ATSDR Glossary of Terms )

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Metabolite

A substance that is the product of biological changes to a chemical. (Source: US EPA Glossary  )

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Method validation

Method validation is the process used to confirm that the analytical procedure employed for a specific test is suitable for its intended use. Results from method validation can be used to judge the quality, reliability and consistency of analytical results; it is an integral part of any good analytical practice. (Source: Ludwig Huber, Validation and Qualification in Analytical Laboratories  )

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Molecule

A molecule is the smallest part of any chemical compound composed of two or more atoms and which has the qualities of that substance and can exist alone in a free state. As an example, a molecule of water (H2O) consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Helios Glossary   )

Mutagen

A substance or physical agent that causes mutations, i.e. permanently alters the DNA of a cell. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Mutation

Any permanent change in the DNA of a cell.

Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment.

Mutations can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited.

Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. (Source: NCI cancer.gov dictionary   )

Nervous system

The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities.

It is made up of:

  • the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, and
  • the peripheral nervous system which includes, the eyes, the ears, the sensory organs of taste and smell, as well as the sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body.
Neurobehavioural

Having to do with the way the brain affects emotion, behavior, and learning. (Source: NCI cancer.gov dictionary   )

Neurological effects

Effects to nervous system especially regarding structure, functions, and abnormalities. (Source: GreenFacts)

Organic arsenic compounds

Arsenic compounds containing carbon. They are mainly found in sea-living organisms, although some of these compounds have also been found in species living on land. (Source: GreenFacts)

pH

pH is a measure of the concentration of protons (H+) in a solution and, therefore, its acidity or alkalinity. The concept was introduced by S.P.L. Sørensen in 1909. The p stands for the German "Potenz", meaning power or concentration, and the H for the hydrogen ion (H+). In layman's terms , the "pH" value is an approximate number between 0 and 14 that indicates whether a solution is acidic (pH < 7), basic (pH > 7) or neither (pH = 7) [neutral]. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Pituitary gland

The hypophysis or pituitary gland is the master gland of the body. Compared with other endocrine glands, it produces the largest number of hormones, including some that control the other endocrine glands of the body. (Source: EM-com Endocrine disruptors Glossary  )

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Population

A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Primates

Biological order that comprises prosimans, monkeys, apes, among which humans. Compared to other mammals, they have large brains, as well as an increased reliance on vision that allows depth perception. Most primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia.

The Primates order has traditionally been divided into prosimians and simians.

  • Prosimians resemble the earliest primates and include the lemurs of Madagascar, lorisiforms and Aye-aye.
  • Simians including:
    • the New World monkeys of South and Central America, which include the capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys;
    • the Old World Monkeys of Africa and southeastern Asia such as baboons and macaques;
    • the Apes among which lesser apes such as gibbons and great apes such as gorillas, chimpanzees and humans.

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Protein

A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order, formed according to genetic information.

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Risk assessment

A scientifically based process consisting of four steps:

  • hazard identification,
  • hazard characterization,
  • exposure assessment and
  • risk characterization
(Source:   Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31 )

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Soluble

A substance is soluble if it dissolves in certain fluids. The fluid [gas or liquid] (present in excess) is called the solvent and the substance dissolved in it is called the solute which together form a solution. The process of dissolving is called solvation. A solution that can not hold any more solute is said to be saturated. (Source: GreenFacts )

Spleen

An organ that is part of the immune system. The spleen is a storage site for lymphocytes (white blood cells important in immunity and defense against infection), it filters the blood, stores blood cells, and destroys old blood cells.

It is located on the left side of the abdomen near the stomach.

Immune reactions can occur in the spleen. (Source: GreenFacts, based on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Medical terminology & drug database  )

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Target tissue

The biological tissue(s) most adversely affected by exposure to a chemical substance. (Source: GreenFacts)

Tissue

A group of cells joined to perform a set of functions. (Source: GreenFacts)

Toxicity

The capacity or property of a substance to cause adverse effects. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Tumour

An abnormal mass of tissue resulting from uncontrolled and excessive cell division.

Tumours can be either benign (localised, without the invasion of other tissues) or malignant (showing progressive invasion of other tissues). (Source: GreenFacts)

Value

Defined by Webster to be the quality of a thing according to which it is thought of as being more or less desirable, useful, estimable or important.

Using this definition the value of an ecosystem might be defined in terms of its beauty, its uniqueness, its irreplacability, its contribution to life support functions or commercial or recreational opportunities, or its role in supporting wildlife or reducing environmental or human health risks, or providing many other services that benefit humans. (Source: Ecosystem Valuation Definition of Terms  )

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