Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Clues to Cancer Found in Food

A team of researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands have studied the association between cancer and the chemical acrylamide-a substance known to cause cancer in mice. The study is published in the May issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Acrylamide is found in French fries, potato chips, coffee, fried and baked foods, olives, and even breakfast cereals. It’s also used for food packaging, and to manufacture cosmetics and plastics.

We have known for years that acrylamide is present in much of our food. What we haven’t known is whether it poses a health risk to humans. Researchers from the Netherlands began looking at data from a large study on diet and cancer that began in 1986. Acrylamide intake was estimated among 121000 participants who revealed their eating habits by way of a questionnaire. The study focused on cancer rates and acrylamide intake. The group was followed for thirteen years. The age range was 55 to 70, and the participants consumed an average of 22 micrograms of Acrylamide daily, a little less than 21/2 ounces of French fries. Those who ate the highest amounts of the chemical showed a 59% greater risk for kidney cancer than those who ate the least, and the risk was highest in smokers.

A study published last December in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention showed that non -smoking, post-menopausal women who consumed higher amounts of acrylamide were at greater risk for ovarian and endometrial cancer.

The research has come under criticism from experts who say the study authors were looking for a link between acrylamide and cancer, so they found one. Jeff Stier, associate director of the American Council on Science and Health says…” people should not confuse association with causation."

Roger Clemens, DrPH and spokesperson for the American Society of Nutrition says that mice used in studies were exposed to 300 times the amount of acrylamide than humans, according to FDA and World Health Organization estimates. Even though all of us consume acrylamides, our exposure does not seem to be increasing, meaning we might be able to rest easy about the study results. Clemens points out however, that we should still limit our intake of French fries and potato chips, noting, "Balance, moderation and variety are the keys to a healthful lifestyle."

The current authors hope that other scientists will follow-up with more research. In the meantime, perhaps we should all limit our acrylamide intake.

Source: ◦