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Acrylamide not linked to increased breast cancer risk

Normal dietary intake of foods that contain acrylamide is unlikely to increase the risk of breast cancer, suggest the preliminary findings of a study of 100,000 women

OnMedica Reporters

Friday, 24 August 2007

Normal dietary intake of foods that contain acrylamide is unlikely to increase the risk of breast cancer, suggest the preliminary findings of a study of 100,000 women.

Scientists first discovered in 2002 that acrylamide was formed as part of the cooking process of several foods, from bread to coffee.

The findings contradict those from animal studies, but back up previous research in people by the same team, which indicated that normal dietary intake of acrylamide, highest levels of which are found in fried and baked products, was not associated with an increased risk of bowel, bladder and kidney cancers.

None the less, acrylamide the World Health Organization classified the substance as a probable carcinogen, and steps are being taken to curb its levels in widely consumed foodstuffs.

Almost a third of calorific intake in the US and Europe is provided by foodstuffs containing acrylamide, equating to around 0.5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight a day, say the researchers. Intake tends to be higher among children

The researchers tracked the health of 100,000 nurses over a period of 20 years, periodically quizzing them about the types and frequency of the foods they consumed.

Over 3,000 cases of breast cancer were reported among the women during this period, but women whose diets included high levels of acrylamide were no more likely to develop the disease than those with low intakes.

Scientists first discovered that acrylamide was formed as part of the cooking process of several foods, from bread to coffee in 2002.

"At levels consumed in the diet, it appears unlikely that acrylamide in foods is related to breast cancer risk," said lead author Dr Lorelei Mucci, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Children's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health.

She suggested that the difference in the animal and human studies might be because the animals were fed amounts of acrylamide 1,000 to 100,000 times higher than would be found in the human diet.

People may also clear the chemical differentlythan animals do, she added.

But she said that she could not rule out the possibility that acrylamide was linked to other diseases, or that very high levels of acrylamide could cause cancer.

The data were presented to the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, which has been taking place in Boston, USA, since Tuesday.

 

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