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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Study: No Acrylamide-Breast Cancer Link

Swedish Researchers Say Ingredient in Fried and Baked Foods Doesn't Raise Breast Cancer Risk

WebMD Health News

March 15, 2005 - A controversial ingredient known as acrylamideacrylamide found in many fried and baked foods does not appear to raise the risk of breast cancer among women, according to a new report.

Acrylamide made headlines in 2002 when Swedish researchers first discovered it in many commonly eaten foods, such as potato chips, bread, cereals, and coffee. Acrylamide forms when certain carbohydrate-rich foods are fried, baked, or roasted at high temperatures. Acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals at high doses, although it is not clear whether it causes cancer at the much lower levels found in food.

The World Health Organization has classified acrylamide as a probable human carcinogen based largely on studies done in animals with doses of acrylamide that were three to five times the amount typically consumed by humans.

But in this study, researchers looked at the acrylamide intake of a large group of Swedish women followed for more than a decade and found no association between the amount of acrylamide in their diets and the risk of breast cancer.

"This is the first prospective study to examine whether acrylamide intake through foods is associated with an increased risk of cancer," says researcher Lorelei Mucci, ScD, MPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health, in a news release. "It's reassuring to see that the study suggests that the amount of acrylamide consumed in the Swedish diet is not associated with an excess risk of breast cancer."

The results appear in the March 16 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Eating Foods With Acrylamide

In the study, researchers measured the acrylamide intake of more than 43,000 women, including 667 women with breast cancer, who took part in the Swedish Women's Lifestyle and Health Cohort. Acrylamide intake was determined using food questionnaires reported by the women in 1991, and the women's health was tracked via national health records through 2002.

The results showed that the average acrylamide intake was 25.9 micrograms per day. Less than 1.5% of the women consumed more than one microgram per kilogram of her body weight per day, an amount used in many risk assessment models.

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