Phosphates May Raise Lung Cancer Risk
Lab Tests in Mice Link Diet High in Phosphate to Faster Lung Tumor Progression; Food Industry Questions Study
Dec. 30, 2008 -- New research suggests a possible link between lung cancer risk and
Phosphate is a nutrient found in nature. Phosphates are also added to a
variety of processed foods, including some baking mixes, colas, meat and
poultry products, cheeses, canned tuna, puddings, toothpastes, and other
products, according to background information on the web site of the
International Food Additives Council (IFAC).
In the Jan. 1, 2009, edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and
Critical Care Medicine, researchers report that when they increased the
amount of phosphate in the diet of mice at high risk of developing lung cancer, those mice developed
larger lung tumors that progressed faster.
In light of those findings, the researchers -- who included Hua Jin of Seoul
National University in Seoul, South Korea -- write that "careful regulation
of dietary consumption of [phosphate] may be critical for lung cancer prevention as well
Jin's team didn't study phosphate and lung cancer in people.
In a news release, Jin's colleague, Myung-Haing Cho, DVM, PhD, of Seoul
National University, says that "phosphate is an essential nutrient" but
that high intake of inorganic phosphate may strongly stimulate lung cancer
development" by altering certain chemical signaling pathways in the
The IFAC wasn't involved in the study; its members include producers and
users of phosphates. In an email to WebMD, IFAC spokesperson Haley Stevens,
PhD, writes that the new study is "very limited and not comparable to the
food industry's numerous toxicological studies" and that it is "not
scientifically credible to think that a minor alteration of the diet alone,
such as reducing phosphate consumption, would be effective in preventing such a
profound disease as lung cancer, which is known to be multifactorial" and
most commonly caused by smoking.