“Eating Pizza can contribute to cancer” says a recent study, immediately proven wrong

According to the results of a recent study, presented this week during an episode of the italian tv show “Report”, eating pizza could contribute to cancer. Can you imagine the reaction of the Italians?!

Pizza is one of these rare white flies in the panorama of food: both delicious AND healthy. Usually the food we like is fat, deep fried, full of sugars… But pizza is the exception. Few simple healthy ingredients, low fat content…what is wrong then?

Pizza mozzarella ham
Crispy and thin pizza from a wood fire oven

According to this study, when you cook pizza in a wood fired pizza oven, carcinogenic hydrocarbons can form. These “nasties” (benzo(a)pyrene and benzoantracene) can be found within the burned patches of flour at the base of a pizza, or they can come from the black smoke produced in a not very clean oven. According to this study, in the sampled pizzas, the percentage of these nasty elements was unacceptably too high and, because of this, a constant consumption of pizza could contribute to get cancer. Furthermore, the use of pizza containers made of recycled paper could be dangerous too: carcinogenic inks could have been present on the paper before the recycling: the ink would still be present in the recycled cardboard and would be released into the pizza when the hot pizza gets in contact with the container.

The whole Country, no surprise, immediately freaked out.

The days after the tv show, another research center in Southern Italy (Istituto Zooprofilattico Alimentare del Mezzogiorno) randomly sampled pizza in several pizzerias and carried out the same type of study. The results were completely different. The percentage of “nasty” molecules in a whole pizza (burned bits together with the whole rest of the pizza) was way below the “Report” study, and below the acceptable standards indicated by European regulations.

Now… we can wonder if this second research study could have been manipulated in order to protect the reputation of the queen of the Italian dishes. Probably this doubt would never be solved. And probably both studies are in part right. I am sure eating some “burned” pizzas do not really contribute to your health but… once not burned and properly cooked in a decently clean wood fired pizza oven, pizza still remain a top choice for a healthy meal.

In 2003 another “scientific” study claimed actually that eating pizza “cuts cancer risk”, BBC reported. According to this same article (quoting) “…the secret could be lycopene, an antioxidant chemical in tomatoes, which is thought to offer some protection against cancer, and which gives the fruit its traditional red colour.” I find amusing how, claiming to use the “impeccable and precise scientific approach”, someone can prove something and prove the opposite one minute after that, still claiming that that’s the “truth”.

Pizza mozzarella ham
Pizza with buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto

I will no doubt keep eating and enjoying my pizza, maybe scratching out the burned bits from it. And like me, thousands of tweeters have stated this same intention.

And if you are still concerned about eating pizza, a tweet from Luigi Condurro, from Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, will clear any of your doubts: “Ho 93 anni e ho sempre mangiato la pizza” (“I am 93yo and I have been eating pizza for my whole life”)!

And if even Julia Roberts (THE actress) said “I’m in love. I am having a relationship with my pizza”, who are we to doubt the fact pizza is the most wonderful thing?! :O)

Julia Roberts eat pray love pizza
Julia Roberts eating pizza in EAT, PRAY, LOVE (Columbia Pictures)

That thin crispy bread, chopped juicy tomatoes and fresh basil and a sprinkle of raw olive oil: even if one day someone proves pizza is unhealthy, will you be able to give up eating it?

 

 

 

 

Alessio
Hallo! I’m Alessio: an Italian geek with the passion for food and travel. I’m originally from Umbria Region - the Green hearth of Italy - and currently live in London. I’m often on a plane, travelling somewhere either for work or holidays. This is my little corner of the world where I share my tasty recipes, tips on how to cook, restaurants to try and places to visit, including my beautiful Umbria.

1 Comment “Eating Pizza can contribute to cancer” says a recent study, immediately proven wrong

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