Acrylamide exposure raises death risk from breast cancer

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By David Liu, PHD

Wednesday Sept 26 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Prediagnostic acrylamide exposure to acrylamide may lower odds of breast cancer survival in postmenopausal women, according to a study recently published in Toxicology.

Anja Olsena of Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, Denmark and colleagues conducted the study and found non-smokers who had higher exposure to acrylamide, measured as glycidamide hemoglobin adducts, were more than 63 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, compared to those who had lower exposure.

Also among patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, those who had higher exposure to acrylamide were 123 percent more likely to die from the disease, compared with those who had lower exposure.

Acrylamide is a probable human carcinogen recognized by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.  People can be exposed to this toxic chemical through their work, tobacco smoking and eating foods processed at high temperature such as French fries and bakery goods.

Early studies have found acrylamide-DNA adducts in breast tissue, indicating that acrylamide can participate directly in tumorigenesis and carcinogenesis of breast cancer.  Animals studies also demonstrated that oral intake of acrylamide boosts  risk of cancer, particularly endocrine related tumors.  Similarly, epidemiological studies linked dietary exposure to acrylamide to higher risk of endocrine related tumors such as estrogen sensitive breast cancer.

The current study was intended to assess the association between pre-diagnostic acrylamide exposure and mortality of breast cancer.   Acrylamide exposure is estimated by measuring the serum concentrations of acrylamide and glycidamide hemoglobin adducts.

The study involved 24,697 postmenopausal women who were enrolled in a Danish cohort study between 1993 and 1997 in which 420 participants developed breast cancer before 2001 and 110 died before 2009. 

In addition to the associations for glycidamide hemoglobin adducts, the researchers found similar associations for acrylamide adducts.  Specially higher concentrations of acrylamide hemoglobin adducts were linked to 31 percent higher risk of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

The researchers concluded " pre-diagnostic exposure to acrylamide may be related to mortality among breast cancer patients and that this may especially concern the most endocrine related type of breast cancer."

Breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed in more thna 230,000 women in 2012 in the United States, and the disease is expected to kill 37,000 women in the same year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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