Acrylamide linked again to female cancer risks

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Acrylamide, Cancer, Menopause, Breast cancer

A high dietary intake of acrylamide may increase the risk of breast
cancer, according to new research published this week.

"Ours in the first epidemiological study using biological markers for measuring acrylamide exposure, and the first to report a positive association between acrylamide and breast cancer,"​ said Henrik Frandsen, a senior scientist at the National Food Institute. Researchers at the National Food Institute, the Technical Univeristy of Denmark and the Danish Cancer Society studied 374 postmenopausal women who had developed breast cancer, with 374 healthy women as controls. The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, show a positive association between an increased acrylamide haemoglobin level and the development of breast cancer. Acrylamide is a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or toasted. It first hit the headlines in 2002, when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods. Tobacco smoking also generates substantial amounts of acrylamide. Despite being a carcinogen in the laboratory, many epidemiological studies have reported that everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern. However, Frandsen said that all previous epidemiological studies have been based on food frequency questionnaires. Results showed, after adjustment for smoking behaviour, the scientists found that the risk of breast cancer doubles with a tenfold increase in the acrylamide-haemoglobin level. A tenfold increase in the acrylamide-haemoglobin level corresponds more or less to the difference measured between the women with the lowest and highest exposure. The study shows a stronger association for oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Last year, Janneke Hogervorst and co-workers from the University of Maastricht examined data from 62,573 women and found that increased dietary intakes of acrylamide could raise the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer by 29 and 78 per cent respectively. Pelle Thonning Olesen, scientist at the National Food Institute, said: "It is, however, important to stress that neither study indicates an unambiguous association between acrylamide in foods and cancer. "It is, for example, uncertain whether the observed effect on breast cancer is instead related to other chemical compounds formed along with acrylamide during the heating of foods. Another uncertainty is whether some of the acrylamide originates from sources other than food." ​ While some studies have shown no link between acrylamide consumption and cancer, industry and universities are actively exploring effective ways of reducing the formation of acrylamide. Moreover, acrylamide-reducing ingredients are already commercially available. Source: International Journal of Cancer Published onlineJanuary 8 2008"Epidemiology: Acrylamide exposure and incidence of breast cancer among menopausal women in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study.​ Authors: Pelle Thonning Olesen, Anja Olsen, Henrik Frandsen, Kirsten Frederiksen, Kim Overvad and Anne Tjonneland

Related topics: Science

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