Acrylamide finding challenges rodent carcinogen tests, media

Acrylamide was first discovered in 2002 as a compound created in food at high temperatures during frying, roasting and baking, and led, initially, to a health scare over french fries and potato chips, when high doses were associated with cancer in lab rats. Research in 2003 then showed that there were higher quantities of acrylamide than previously thought in breakfast cereals, coffee, and toast.

As STATS reported at the time, the media quickly began cooking up a health scare and downplaying research which failed to connect the compound to cancer in humans (and, in fact, found a lower rate of certain cancers among those with the highest intake of dietary acrylamide).

Now, results from the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer have failed to show an association between acrylamide and “colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, and esophageal cancer risk.” The abstract also notes that “some subgroups deserve further attention,” based on particular factors. Of course, you might want to stay away from foods high in acrylamide for the simple reason that they may be high in carbohydrates and fat.

Still, the growing absence of evidence that acrylamide causes cancer in humans reminds us of the need to be cautious in interpreting the results of studies where rodents are fed massive doses of chemicals.

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