A schocking link to breast cancer

Acrylamide is a chemical formed when frying, roasting, grilling or baking carbohydrate-rich foods at temperatures above 120°C. Acrylamide is thus found in a number of foods, such as bread, crisps, French fries and coffee. Tobacco smoking also generates substantial amounts of acrylamide. Researchers from Denmark reports this stunning new study. Animal tests have shown acrylamide to be a carcinogen, but until recently no studies have demonstrated a link between acrylamide in foods and cancer in humans. Ours is the first epidemiological study using biological markers for measuring acrylamide exposure, and the first to report a positive association between acrylamide and breast cancer, says Henrik Frandsen, senior scientist at the National Food Institute. All previous epidemiological studies have been based on food frequency questionnaires. The scientists behind this study have instead used biological markers to be able to more accurately determine the acrylamide levels ingested by the women participating in the study.

The women’s blood has been tested for the level of acrylamide bound to haemoglobin in red blood cells. The findings show a positive association between an increased acrylamide-haemoglobin level and the development of breast cancer after adjustment for smoking behaviour. The risk of breast cancer doubles with a tenfold increase in the acrylamide-haemoglobin level. A tenfold increase in the acrylamide-haemoglobin level corresponds more or less to the difference measured between the women with the lowest and highest exposure. The study also shows a stronger association for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

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