Study shows acrylamide in baked and fried food does not increase risk of breast cancer in women

Boston, MA-- Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, have found no association between acrylamide intake in foods and risk of breast cancer among Swedish women. The findings appear in the March 16, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In 2002, the Swedish National Food Administration first reported the discovery of acrylamide in several commonly eaten foods. The World Health Organization has classified acrylamide as a probable human carcinogen, based chiefly on experimental data. Acrylamide appears to form as a result of a reaction between specific amino acids and sugars found in foods when heated to high temperatures. It's found in foods such as potato chips, French fries, cereals, breads, biscuits, coffee and meatballs, among others. The researchers found that the amount of acrylamide eaten in the diet did not pose an increased risk of breast cancer among the women in the study. Animal and laboratory studies in the past have shown higher levels of certain types of tumors in rats, including mammary gland tumors, however they were exposed to levels 1,000 to 100,000 times greater than levels humans are exposed to through diet.

The researchers assessed acrylamide intake of more than 43,000 women, including 667 breast cancer cases, who were enrolled in the Swedish Women's Lifestyle and Health Cohort. Acrylamide intake was determined from food frequency questionnaires reported by the women in 1991; the women's health status was tracked via national health registers until the end of 2002.

The average daily acrylamide intake among the participants was 25.9 micrograms per day. Less than 1.5 percent of the women consumed more than 1 microgram of acrylamide per kilogram of body weight per day, a level used in risk assessment models. The foods that contributed the most to acrylamide intake were coffee (54 percent of acrylamide dose), fried potatoes (12 percent of

Contact: Kevin C. Myron
Harvard School of Public Health

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