Acrylamide intake, at levels commonly consumed in the diet, were not related to colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, and oesophageal cancer risk, according to findings of a new study with 5,000 participants published in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
Acrylamide is a potential 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, performed by researchers from Maastricht University, used data from a random sub-cohort of 5,000 participants in the Netherlands Cohort Study. Dietary intakes were assessed using a 150-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at the start of the study.
After 13.3 years of follow-up, the researchers had documented 2,190, 563, 349, and 216 cases of colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, and oesophageal cancer, respectively.
The average daily acrylamide intake of all the participants was 21.7 mg. None of the cancers were associated with acrylamide intakes, but the researchers noted that some subgroups of participants did exhibit increased risks. Notably, obesity and age were associated with increased risks.
“Overall, acrylamide intake was not associated with colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, and oesophageal cancer risk, but some subgroups deserve further attention,” concluded the researchers.
Industrial efforts against acrylamide
Despite the growing number of null results from epidemiological studies industry continues to explore ways of removing or reducing the formation of acrylamide.
Successful areas of study have focused predominantly on the precursors to acrylamide, mainly asparagine.
Approaches include converting asparagine into an impotent form using an enzyme, binding asparagine to make it inaccessible, adding amino acids, changing the pH to alter the reaction products, cutting heating temperatures and times, and removing compounds from the recipe that may promote acrylamide formation.
Source: Journal of Nutrition Volume 138, Pages 2229-2236“Dietary acrylamide intake is not associated with gastrointestinal cancer risk”Authors: J.G.F. Hogervorst, L.J. Schouten, E.J.M Konings, R.A. Goldbohm, P.A. van den Brandt