Seven years ago, alarms were sounded that acrylamide, a compound found in foods heated at high temperatures, could cause cancer. However, studies have not uncovered links to colon cancer or breast cancer, and now comes word from a Swedish study indicating that long-term intake of acrylamide does not raise the risk of endometrial cancer.
Data from animal studies have supported a cancer-causing effect for acrylamide, according to the report in the International Journal of Cancer. Indeed, in 2005 the World Health Organization called for lower levels of acrylamide in food.
On the other hand, population-based evidence has largely refuted a significant cancer risk with acrylamide intake, Dr. Susanna C. Larson, from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and colleagues note.
An exception is a Dutch study, reported two years ago, in which acrylamide intake was tied to ovarian and endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women who had never smoked.
To look into this, Larson’s group analyzed data from 61,000 women in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. The women completed food questionnaires when they were enrolled in 1987-1990 and then again in 1997.
During an average follow-up period of 17 years, 687 women developed endometrial cancer. Contrary top the Dutch report, the Swedish researchers found no evidence that acrylamide intake influenced the risk of the malignancy, whether women smoked or not.
“The inconsistent findings from our study and the Netherlands cohort may be due to different ranges of (acrylamide) exposure,” the authors speculate. The average lowest level of intake was higher in the present cohort, while the average highest level was slightly higher in the Dutch study, they point out.
Alternatively, it is possible that the association seen in the earlier study was simply a chance finding, Larson and her colleagues add.
SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, March 1, 2009.