Carcinogen In Cooked Food Linked To Ovarian And Endometrial Cancer
The study is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention and is the work of Janneke Hogervorst, from the Department of Epidemiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues.
The study authors said because this is the first study to look at the link between acrylamide in food and cancer in humans, people should wait until the results are corroborated by further research before acting on these conclusions.
Hogervorst and colleagues examined data from participants enrolled in the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer (NLCS), which started in 1986 with 120,000 randomly selected people aged 55 to 70 living in the Netherlands, including over 62,000 women.
At enrollment, participants completed detailed questionnaires about the frequency and types of food they consumed. Data on levels of acrylamide in food came from the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, who also requested and funded the study. The two types of information allowed the researchers to estimate the intake of acrylamide in the participant population.
The researchers were also able to find out the incidence of different cancers among the participants by consulting Dutch cancer registers.
The results showed that the risk for endometrial and ovarian cancer rose with increasing acrylamide intake, with women in the top 20 per cent of acrylamide intake having twice the risk of endometrial or ovarian cancer of the women in the lowest 20 per cent of acrylamide consumption.
The researchers found no links between breast cancer and acrylamide intake.
Acrylamide is found in cigarette smoke and in carbohydrate rich foods that are cooked at a temperature above 120 degrees Centigrade (250 Fahrenheit).
Boiled carboydrate rich food, eg boiled potatoes, do not contain acrylamide because the cooking temperature is the boiling point of water, 100 degrees C or 212 degree F. However, grilling, baking, roasting, toasting and frying do generate acrylamides in carbohydrate rich foods like potatoes.
According to the researchers, the longer a carbohydrate rich food is cooked at above 120 degrees C, or the higher the temperature at which is cooked, the more acrylamide it contains. So very brown or burned fried or baked potatoes have more acrylamide than slighlty golden ones, for example.
Hogervorst and colleagues cited French fries, Dutch spiced cake, crisps (also known as potato chips in the US), and some cookies (for instance caramelized biscuits) as having high levels of acrylamide, whereas crackers, toast, breakfast cereals and coffee contain less. They wrote that the food industry and scientists are working to develop ways to reduce acrylamide in processed foods.
Acrylamide and cancer in humans has been studied before, but in a limited way, wrote the researchers. Breast and colorectal cancer have been investigated before and shown not to be linked to acrylamide intake, and this study confirms those findings for breast cancer.
Endometrial and ovarian cancer, which are quite rare, have not been studied before in a large prospective study in connection with acrylamide intake.
Further studies should be done to confirm these findings, wrote Hogervorst and colleagues, and especially to look at subgroups such as smokers and non smokers, since acrylamide in cigarettes can mask the findings related to food intake.
The researchers are continuing their investigation of the NLCS cohort, looking at links between acrylamide and other types of cancer, which have been found in animal studies.
"A Prospective Study of Dietary Acrylamide Intake and the Risk of Endometrial, Ovarian, and Breast Cancer."
Janneke G. Hogervorst, Leo J. Schouten, Erik J. Konings, R. Alexandra Goldbohm, and Piet A. van den Brandt.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2007 16: 2304-2313
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