Acrylamide linked to higher kidney cancer risk

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Acrylamide

Increased dietary intakes of acrylamide could raise the risk of
kidney cancer by 59 per cent, says a new study from the
Netherlands.

Five thousand women, aged between 55 and 69, took part in the research that is one of only a handful of studies showing significant increases in cancer risk, and highlighting the need for reformulation or process changes in the food industry to reduce the presence in food. However, no link between dietary acrylamide intakes and the risk of bladder or prostate cancer was reported by researchers from Maastricht University, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, and TNO Quality of Life, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​. Acrylamide is a carcinogen that is 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. 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. The new study, led by Janneke Hogervorst, looked at a random sub-cohort of 5000 participants from the larger Netherlands Cohort Study. A food-frequency questionnaire completed at the start of the study was used to assess acrylamide intakes. Over the course of 13.3 years of follow-up Hogervorst and co-workers documented 339, 1210, and 2246 cases of renal cell, bladder, and prostate cancer, respectively. People with the highest average daily intakes of acrylamide (40.8 micrograms) were associated with a 59 per cent increased risk of developing renal cancer, compared to people with the lowest average daily intake (9.5 micrograms). No significant effects were observed for bladder or prostate cancer risk, respectively, although the data did indicate a potential decrease in risk for advanced prostate cancer in people who had never smoked. "We found some indications for a positive association between dietary acrylamide and renal cell cancer risk,"​ concluded the researchers in the journal. More than 80 per cent of all kidney cancers are accounted for by renal cell carcinoma (RCC). According to the charity Cancer Research UK, kidney cancer is the tenth most common form of the disease, with a male:female incidence ratio of 5:3. In the UK alone, around 6,600 new cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed each year, and the disease results in around 3,600 deaths. Age, sex, obesity, smoking and several genetic and medical conditions are believed to be risk factors, but epidemiological data to support the role of diet in kidney cancer aetiology have yielded mixed results. Literature contradictions ​ Contradiction have been reported between observational studies and those of animal studies, where high acrylamide doses led to increased rates of cancer of the thyroid, testicles, breasts, and uterus, has been suggested to be due to excessive exposure of the animals to the chemical - the animal studies used does 1,000 to 100,000 times higher than what humans are exposed to, and the animal studies provided the acrylamide from water, unlike humans who obtain acrylamide from food sources. Scientists have also suggests that humans may effectively detoxify acrylamide when consumed at dietary levels. Despite the inconsistency in the literature, industry and universities are actively exploring effective ways of reducing the formation of acrylamide. Moreover, acrylamide-reducing ingredients are already commercially available. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ May 2008, Volume 87, Number 5, Pages 1428-1438 "Dietary acrylamide intake and the risk of renal cell, bladder, and prostate cancer" ​Authors: J.G. Hogervorst, L.J. Schouten, E.J. Konings, R.A. Goldbohm, P.A. van den Brandt

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