“Dietary acrylamide (chips, french fries, bread, etc.) has been linked to esophageal cancer…”

The following post is from Dr. Mike Lustgarten , Scientist from Tufts University.  Dr. Lustgarten explains the link between certain cancers, including esophageal cancer and dietary acrylamide, a chemical compound found in most foods.   Research shows that acrylamide has been found to in many cooked starchy foods and as a possible carcinogen, it has even caused cancer when administererd to lab rats in high dose experiemnts. (Source)

“In an earlier article I wrote about how cooking foods at a high temperature (greater than 250ºF, including frying, baking, roasting and grilling) produces the neurotoxic and carcinogenic compound, acrylamide (http://voices.yahoo.com/acrylamide-chocolate-another-10217911.html?cat=5). However, the adverse effects of acrylamide that I discussed were solely based on rodent studies. In this follow-up article, I’ll comprehensively discuss the evidence relating dietary acrylamide with human cancer.

Before introducing the data, it’s important to note that dietary acrylamide intake in all of the studies discussed below were calculated based on food frequency questionnaires. The highest acrylamide consuming group was approximately 40 µg/day, in comparison with low consumers of dietary acrymaide, ~10 µg /day. Without a doubt these values for dietary acrylamide intake are underestimated-for example, 1 ounce of Pringles potato chips contains 70 µg of acrylamide, and the commonly thought of as “healthier chips”, Baked Lays has 31µg/ounce (1 bag of chips).

 Esophageal cancer   One small study (987 subjects) found a 23% increased risk for esophageal cancer, and an 88% increased risk in those with a BMI greater than 25. In two other studies (Pellucchi et al. 2006, Hogervorst et al. 2008), no association between dietary acrylamide and esophageal cancer was found.

Head-neck cancer  Increased risk for oral-cavity cancer in female non-smokers in a large study (121,000 subjects; Schouten et al. 2009) was found. No association for oral cavity, pharynx or larynx cancer in a smaller study (1500-6000 subjects; Pellucchi et al. 2006)

Kidney Cancer   Although risk of kidney cancer was significantly increased by 59%, it appears as if this data was skewed by smokers. In non-smokers, risk of kidney cancer was not significant (Pellucchi et al. 2006). No association between dietary acrylamide and risk of kidney cancer was also identified in three additional studies (Mucci et al. 2003, Mucci et al. 2004, Pellucchi et al. 2007).

Gastric, Colon, Rectal cancer   A small study with 1129 subjects found a 40% decreased risk of large bowel cancer (Mucci et al. 2003). Four studies have not found a similar association (Pellucchi et al. 2006, Mucci et al. 2006, Hogervorst et al. 2008, Larsson et al. 2009).

Lung Cancer   A 55% decreased risk of lung cancer, in women was identified by Hogervorst et al. (2009).

Bladder cancer   Significant only in smokers, as 15+ cigarettes/day significantly increased risk of bladder cancer in those with the highest dietary acrylamide intake, relative to the lowest intake (Hogervorst et al. 2008).

Blood cancer   Multiple myeloma and follicular myeloma were found to be significantly increased by 14% and 28% for every 10 µg increment in dietary acrylamide (Bongers et al. 2012).

Breast Cancer  Six large epidemiological studies (ranging from 33,000-120,000 subjects) and 1 smaller study (1500-6000 subjects) investigated the association between dietary acrylamide and breast cancer risk. Of these, 1 study, the UK Women’s Cohort Study identified a 20% significantly increased risk between acrylamide intake and premenopausal breast cancer (Burley et al. 2011). The other six studies did not show an association between acrylamide intake and breast cancer risk (Pellucchi et al. 2006, Hogervorst et al. 2007, Pedersen et al. 2009, Larsson et al. 2009, Wilson et al. 2009, Wilson et al.2010).

Endometrial Cancer   Three large epidemiological studies have investigated the association between dietary acrylamide and endometrial cancer. In two of these studies, risk of cancer was increased by 41% and 99%, respectively (Wilson et al. 2010, Hogervorst et al. 2007). No association between dietary acrylamide intake and risk of endometrial cancer was found in the Swedish Mammography Study (Larsson et al. 2009).

Ovarian Cancer   No association between dietary acrylamide and risk of ovarian cancer was found in the small- scale Italian Cohort study, or, in 2 large-scale epidemiological studies (Pellucchi et al. 2006, Larsson et al. 2009, Wilson et al. 2010). However, a 122% increased risk for ovarian cancer in non-smokers was found in the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer (Hogervorst et al. 2007).

Prostate, Pancreatic, Brain Cancer   Five separate studies found no association between dietary acrylamide and risk of prostate cancer (Pellucchi et al. 2006, Hogervorst et al. 2008, Wilson et al. 2009, Larsson et al. 2009, Wilson et al. 2012). Similarly, pancreatic cancer risk is not increased (Pelucchi et al. 2011, Hogervorst et al. 2008), nor is brain cancer (Hogervorst et al. 2009), or, thyroid cancer (Schouten et al. 2009).

Conclusions   The easy interpretation of scientific studies is that if six studies show no effect and one study shows a positive effect, that the no effect-data is the real answer. For example, in the case of breast cancer, six studies showed no effect, whereas one study showed a significant association between acrylamide and premenopausal breast cancer. Should we conclude that there is no risk for breast cancer? As I mentioned earlier, it is likely that total dietary acrylamide intake was underestimated, and therefore, it is my opinion that none of the 25 studies should have shown an association between acrylamide and cancer. Therefore, that there was indeed a significant association for breast cancer with potentially underestimated acrylamide values is significant. Also, dietary acrylamide was shown to be significantly associated with myeloma, head-neck cancer, esophageal cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. Paradoxically, dietary acrylamide reduced risk of lung and large bowel cancer.

What should someone who is interested in optimal health do with this information? Knowing that dietary acrylamide is indeed significantly associated with increased risk of human cancers, I would reduce or eliminate cooking food at a high temperature. I have!”


For more information regarding dietary acrylamide and to read Dr. Lustgarten’s refrences, click here

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