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Fries, chips linked to breast cancer - new study

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A study suggests eating too much chips and fries, which are high in acrylamide, may increase risk of breast cancer.

It should be noted that not all studies are consistent and this study is observational, meaning the results do not prove that eating acrylamide rich foods will definitely raise the cancer risk even though the possibility may not be excluded either.

High dietary intake of acrylamide may increase risk of certain types of breast cancer, a study published in the July 2010 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests.

Acrylamide, found in certain starchy foods particularly like thermally processed asparagine-rich potatoes like chips and fries, is a potential human carcinogen, which has been proved in animals to cause cancer while studies on the effect of this chemical on human carcinogenesis are few.

For the study, Pedersen G.S. and colleagues from Maastricht University in The Netherlands followed 62,573 women aged 55 to 69 who enrolled in the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer, which was initiated in 1986 for incidence of breast cancer and dietary intake of acrylamide in the subjects.

During the 13-year follow-up, 2225 incident breast cancer cases were identified with hormone receptor status information for 43 percent of the cases.

Cox proportional hazards analysis showed that when the highest quintile of dietary acrylamide intake was compared to the lowest quintile of intake, no correlation was found for overall breast cancer or receptor negative breast cancer risk, regardless of smoking status.

However, a statistically insignificantly elevated risk of ER positive, PR positive and joint receptor-positive breast cancer was observed among never-smoking women.

Multivariable-adjusted analyses showed that those with highest intake of acrylamide were 31 percent more likely to develop ER+ breast cancer, 47 percent more likely to develop PR+ breast cancer, 43 percent more likely to acquire ER+PR+ breast cancer compared to those who had lowest intake of acrylamide.

Early laboratory studies revealed that acrylamide can interact with DNA in human breast tissue to form DNA-adducts which may potentially increase risk of breast cancer.

Acrylamide is widely present in many types of heat-treated foods. The toxic chemical is formed when an amino acid called asparagine reacts with reducing sugar like glucose.

The researchers of the current study concluded their study showed "some indications of a positive association between dietary acrylamide intake and receptor-positive breast cancer risk in postmenopausal never-smoking women."

They acknowledged "Further studies are needed to confirm or refute our observations."

Breast cancer is more commonly found in Western countries where potato chips and fries are more commonly consumed. An estimated 175,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 50,000 will die from the disease in 2010. 

More reports will be published here in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to help readers better understand breast cancer and how to prevent the disease.


David Liu

Photo credit: wikipedia

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