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No Link Between Some High-Carbohydrate Foods and Cancer - 2003-01-30


Researchers say there appears to be no link between a substance found in some high-carbohydrate foods and the development of some types of cancer.

U.S. and Swedish researchers compared the diets of 1,000 people with colon, bladder and kidney cancer with the diets of nearly 550 healthy individuals.

Researchers looked at how much potato chips, french fries, bread and certain types of cereal they consumed. Those are all foods found to contain higher levels of acrylamide. The investigators then compared those who ate foods containing a lot of acrylamide to those who consumed less of the substance.

Lorelei Mucci of Harvard University's Department of Epidemiology in Boston is the study's lead author. The results are published in the current issue of the British Journal of Cancer.

"We found that none of the food items that have high or medium levels of acrylamide seem to increase the risk of cancer," she said. "And also, the total acrylamide dose that someone takes in through their diets was not associated with any excess risk of these four cancers."

Swedish researchers sparked international alarm last year, when they announced that they had found high levels of acrylamide in certain foods. Researchers say acrylamide can cause cancer in animals, raising concern that it could cause cancer in humans.

Scientists say the substance is produced when starchy foods, such as potatoes, are cooked at very high temperatures, such as frying. But Ms. Mucci said her study suggests acrylamide may not be as harmful as first thought.

"... At least not in the doses that people are taking in through the diet. So, probably, what's happening is that, even though you're taking in acrylamide through your diet, the levels are low enough ... that you are able to effectively detoxify it," she explained.

But Ms. Mucci says she would like to see further study of acrylamide and its possible links to other cancers.

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