More research needed, but take precautions: Expert
DO NOT toss away your woks just yet. A study might have shown that frequent cooking with a wok leads to significantly higher levels of cancer-causing substances, but several doctors tell The New Paper that the study is still not conclusive enough.
Daniel Tan, a consultant at the Division of Medical Oncology at National Cancer Centre, says: "These are association studies that suggest a relationship, although there may be other factors yet to be discovered that may cause lung cancer.
"Current studies do not implicate cooking at home as being dangerous."
Wong Seng Weng, medical director and consultant specialist at Singapore Medical Group's The Cancer Centre, says: "Most Singaporean women I have treated for lung cancer do stir-fry with a wok every now and then.
"Nevertheless, it would be too presumptive to pin down stir-frying with a wok as the definitive cause of their lung cancer."
Koh Woon-Puay, who co-authored the study, agrees that more research needs to be done.
This is because her study did not definitively prove that the increased levels of carcinogens were significant enough to actually cause harm, says Professor Koh.
It does, however, build on previous academic studies linking wok cooking to lung cancer among Asian women.
A study in 2000 by local researchers also found that lung cancer risk was higher among women who stir-fried their meat.
Like Prof Koh's study, it could not prove a causal relationship between stir-frying and cancer.
"These previous studies, though not definitive by themselves, provide information that fills missing gaps in our knowledge of lung cancer, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being put together," she says.
"While we are still not certain if exposure to cooking fumes could be a significant risk factor for lung cancer from the current state of evidence, it is still good to take precautions."
This can come in the form of proper ventilation, which can help decrease exposure to the cooking fumes.
It is also a good idea to use an exhaust hood, says Prof Koh.
THE NEW PAPER