Acrylamide intake, at levels commonly consumed in the Dutch diet, had no impact on the risk of brain cancer, according to findings of a study with 58,279 men and 62,573 women in the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
“In this prospective cohort study, acrylamide intake was not associated with brain cancer risk,” wrote the researchers. Janneke Hogervorst
Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed during by heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods.
Despite being a carcinogen in the laboratory, some epidemiological studies have reported that everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern.
Where the compound has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, these have included endometrial, ovarian, renal cell, and oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancers.
The Dutch researchers, led by Janneke Hogervorst from Maastricht University, used food frequency questionnaires to estimate dietary intakes of acrylamide for 120,852 people aged between 55 and 69. Dietary sources of acrylamide were classified as potato crisps, French fries, Dutch spiced cake, coffee, bread, and cookies.
After 16.3 years of follow-up, brain cancer had been diagnosed in 216 people. Increasing dietary intakes of acrylamide were not associated with increased risks of brain cancer.
Questions over lung cancer
The same researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) recently that dietary acrylamide was also not linked to lung cancer risk, and that the compounds may even reduce the risk in women.
In an accompanying JNCI editorial Lorelei Mucci and Hans-Olov Adami from Harvard School of Public Health said speculation about the potential mechanisms of the protective effect of acrylamide on lung cancer in women “should await confirmation of the association in additional studies”.
"Perhaps the safer conclusion we can make from the Netherlands study is that the findings do not support a positive association between acrylamide intake from diet and risk of lung cancer," added Mucci and Adami.
Source: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2009, Volume 18, Number 5, doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-1133“Dietary Acrylamide Intake and Brain Cancer Risk” Authors: J.G.F. Hogervorst, L.J. Schouten, E.J.M. Konings, R.A. Goldbohm, P.A. van den Brandt