Study: Acrylamide unlikely to cause breast cancer

by Staff
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BOSTON — Foods containing acrylamide are not likely to cause breast cancer in women, according to a study of 100,000 women in the United States. Acrylamide has been found in many foods such as french fries and coffee, but the highest levels are found in fried and baked products.

The study was detailed at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society and followed a group of 100,000 U.S. nurses for more than 20 years. Among the group members, there were more than 3,000 cases of breast cancer, but the incidence of cancer among women with high acrylamide consumption was roughly the same as that among those with low acrylamide intake.

While the chemical is regarded as a probable human carcinogen based on results of animal studies, there is no consensus on dietary acrylamide’s risks.

"At levels consumed in the diet, it appears unlikely that acrylamide in foods is related to breast cancer risk," said study leader Lorelei Mucci, ScD. "Although we do not rule out that very high levels of acrylamide could cause cancer, it appears that at the levels found in the diet, it is unlikely."

Ms. Mucci also has examined dietary acrylamide and risk of cancer in the colon, rectum, bladder and kidney and found no association in those instances either.

Europe is taking action to curb acrylamide, but a decision on such action in the United States has been more controversial. Ms. Mucci and her colleagues also found no association between dietary acrylamide and cancer risk in Swedish women.

"Although we found no significant association between acrylamide in the diet and increased risk for breast cancer among the study participants, it is quite important to stress the importance of eating a healthy diet that includes foods low in saturated and trans fats, unlike french fries and potato chips," Ms. Mucci said

Ms. Mucci and her colleagues are currently conducting a study among a group of 3,000 men in Sweden to explore a link between acrylamide in foods and prostate cancer.

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