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Chemical In Food Linked To Cancer

December 3, 2007 | By More

A common chemical produced by frying, roasting or grilling some foods may double the risk of cancer in women, researchers say. The suspected carcinogen, acrylamide, sparked worldwide concern five years ago when it was discovered in carbohydrate-rich foods such as roasted potato chips, sweet biscuits, bread, rolls and toast. It had previously been known only as an industrial chemical and present in cigarettes.

Now a study of more than 60,000 post-menopausal women has for the first time linked the chemical – produced when sugars and amino acids are cookedat temperatures greater than 120 degrees – to ovarian and endometrial cancers. The Dutch report examined data from the Netherlands Cohort Study, which involved 120,000 people aged 55-70 years, about 62,000 of them women. Acrylamide consumption was measured and the women followed up 11 years later through Dutch cancer registries. Those who had consumed higher levels of acrylamide – 40 milligrams a day or one pack of potato chips – were twice as likely to develop ovarian or womb cancer as those who ingested a smaller amount, according to the findings, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study’s lead author, Janneke Hogervorst, from the department of Epidemiology at Maastricht University, said acrylamide could be responsible for disturbing hormone balance in women, which could lead to the development of endometrial and ovarian cancer. She said that since the study, conducted between 1986 and 1997, consumption of french fries and other fried food had increased so it was likely that the dietary intake of acrylamide was even higher. The study found no link to breast cancer.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand said it was working with the Australian food industry to reduce the acrylamide formation in foods. Other health authorities have cautioned against overcooking starchy foods and consuming charred toast. Bruce Armstrong, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney, said the study did “raise the possibility” that acrylamide could cause cancer in humans. However, most of the foods examined were not recommended to eat in large amounts.”If you are eating a healthy diet you almost certainly are not going to have to worry about high levels of acrylamide,” Professor Armstrong said.

Category: Food

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