Acrylamide Won't Raise Breast Cancer Risk

This is not likely to close the door on research into acrylamide, however.

"The food industry has been spending a lot of time and research on how to avoid acrylamide formation in food, and toxicologists are still very interested in looking at acrylamide," Mucci said. "There's also a new animal study with rats and mice looking at very high levels of acrylamide and cancer risk. There's been concern whether acrylamide could have some impact on hormonal levels, so we would want to look at endometrial and ovarian cancer, because they are hormone-driven."

Tardiff added, "One of the issues that we are working on, and that we think is particularly promising, is that there is significant detoxification of acrylamide quickly [in the human body], so it is no longer available at the levels we found in food. That research will be finished in the next couple of months."

Mucci will also be presenting data at the American Chemical Society meeting on prostate cancer and acrylamide (again, her team found no link).

But cancer is not the only reason to avoid certain foods.

"We want to think about our overall health, and there are a lot of reasons to have a low-fat diet and maintain a healthy weight," Mucci pointed out. "Obesity is a risk factor for so many diseases. Eat a sensible diet, don't eat too much of one thing. If you get a diverse diet, you're probably going to be protecting yourself."

"Environmental exposures have a lot of influence on cancer, including breast cancer, and that includes diet," Chen added. "Diversify your diet. Eating french fries once in a while is probably OK, but not three times a day."

More information

The Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has information on acrylamide.

SOURCES: Lorelei Mucci, Sc.D., assistant professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School and assistant professor, epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director and professor, department of surgical research, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.; Robert Tardiff, Ph.D., president, Sapphire Group, and advisor, Food Products Association, Washington, D.C.; Aug. 21, 2007, presentation, American Chemical Society annual meeting, Boston

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