Data of Acrylamide and Cancer
An extensive study of acrylamide-induced genotoxicity and carcinogenicity and literature review was conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and published in 2012.7 The NTP concluded that their carcinogenesis studies demonstrated clear evidence that acrylamide in drinking water increased the incidence of multiple different cancer types in male and female rats and mice. This was consistent with several published studies. However, the NTP noted that for human carcinogenicity, there was no consistent dose-response relationship of acrylamide occupational exposure to the incidence of any cancer type, except a potential association with pancreatic cancer.
Epidemiologic studies have evaluated dietary acrylamide, as measured primarily by questionnaire data, and the risk of developing different cancer types.8 Most studies have shown no association. A meta-analysis of these studies, which also includes large cohort studies from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort and the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) cohort, found no association between high and low dietary intake of acrylamide for multiple cancer types including oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectal, pancreas, larynx, lung, breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, and bladder cancers, or lymphoid malignancies.
The authors noted that 1 study that found a positive association between acrylamide and breast cancer risk was excluded because they used biomarkers of exposure rather than dietary intake, and they did not match the cases and controls based on smoking status. This is important because smokers are known to have higher levels of acrylamide adducts than nonsmokers, and because smoking is associated with breast cancer.
The meta-analysis did find a significant association for kidney cancer, with an increased risk of 20% (relative risk [RR], 1.20; 95% CI, 1.00-1.45).8 However, the authors also noted that this analysis included a small sample size of approximately 1800 cases of kidney cancer, which limits how conclusive the findings are.
Several cohort studies published after the publication of the meta-analysis also found no association between acrylamide and cancer. For example, an analysis of the Japan Public Health Center–Based Prospective Study, with a follow-up of over 15 years, there was no association between dietary acrylamide or esophageal, gastric, or colorectal cancer.9 In contrast to the meta-analysis, studies of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition cohort found no association between dietary acrylamide and renal cell carcinoma.10,11
Data in animal models suggest that acrylamide has the potential to cause cancer; however, data from human epidemiologic studies to date do not show an association between dietary intake of acrylamide and the risk of developing different cancer types. Therefore, the data in humans are considered inconclusive. Still, regulatory agencies have released guidance documents to help industry reduce the levels of acrylamide in processed foods and to help consumers become aware of the acrylamide content in the foods and beverages they consume.
- Kumar J, Das S, Lin Teoh S, et al. Dietary acrylamide and the risks of developing cancer: facts to ponder. Front Nutr. 2018;5:14.
- Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, ToxFAQs for Acrylamide. CAS# 79-06-1. Posted 2012. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=1162&tid=236. Updated July 2018. Accessed September 30, 2019.
- US Food and Drug Administration. Survey data on acrylamide in food. 2015. Accessed September 30, 2019.
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Acrylamide factsheet. Reviewed April 2017. Accessed September 30, 2019.
- US Food and Drug Administration. Acrylamide questions and answers. Reviewed September 25, 2019. Accessed September 30, 2019.
- US Food and Drug Administration. Acrylamide. Reviewed September 27, 2019. https://www.fda.gov/food/chemicals/acrylamide. Accessed September 30, 2019.
- National Toxicology Program. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of acrylamide (CASRN 79-06-1) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (feed and drinking water studies). Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser. 2012;575:1-234.
- Pelucchi C, Bosetti C, Galeone C, La Vecchia C. Dietary acrylamide and cancer risk: An updated meta-analysis. Int J Cancer. 2015;136(12):2912-2922.
- Liu R, Sobue T, Kitamura T, et al. Dietary acrylamide intake and risk of esophageal, gastric, and colorectal cancer: The Japan Public Health Center–based prospective study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2019;28:1461-1468.
- McCullough ML, Hodge RA, Um CY, Gapstur SM. Dietary acrylamide is not associated with renal cell cancer risk in the CPS-II Nutrition Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2019;28(3):616-619.
- Graff RE, Cho E, Preston MA, et al. Dietary acrylamide intake and risk of renal cell carcinoma in two large prospective cohorts. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018;27(8):979-982.