Study finds no link between acrylamide and breast cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

A large study involving 100,000 women has found no evidence to suggest that the compound acrylamide - found in a range of common foods - causes breast cancer.

The research supports the findings of previous studies and should help to ease concerns about the compound, which is found in a range of food products, primarily fried and baked goods.

Previous animal studies have led it to be classed as a cancer-causing compound, but the animals were exposed to acrylamide levels 1,000 to 100,000 times those found in the human diet and there is no current consensus about whether or not it poses a threat to human health.

The latest study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, indicates that such a risk is "unlikely", according to epidemiologist and lead researcher Dr Lorelei Mucci.

Researchers followed a group of 100,000 American nurses between 1980 and 2000. The nurses completed regular questionnaires about their eating habits, allowing the researchers to estimate their daily acrylamide intake.

They found that the incidence of breast cancer among the women was approximately the same, regardless of whether they had a high or low intake of acrylamide.

"Although we do not rule out that very high levels of acrylamide could cause cancer, it appears that at the levels found in the diet, it is unlikely," Dr Mucci said.

Henry Scowcroft, senior information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Despite being carcinogenic in the laboratory, population-based studies have repeatedly shown that our everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern. And several other large studies have found no increase in cancer risk in people exposed to above-average levels of acrylamide, such as food industry workers. This new study adds to that evidence.

"However, it's worth pointing out that chips and other fried starchy foods are usually full of fats and obesity does increase your risk of several cancers."