Background: Acrylamide has been associated to cancer risk in rodents, but data on humans are inconclusive. We thus carried out a critical review and meta-analysis of studies of exposure to acrylamide and cancer.
Methods: We identified 586 publications, 25 presented relevant results. We conducted meta-analyses of studies of dietary intake based on random-effects models by calculating pooled relative risks (RR) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI). We combined results of occupational studies according to a fixed-effect model.
Results: The summary RRs for an increase of 10 μg/day of acrylamide intake were close to unity for all the cancers considered, ranging from 0.98 for esophageal cancer to 1.01 for colon, endometrial, ovarian and kidney cancer. None of the estimates was significant. Exclusion of one case-control study from Sweden resulted in a summary RR of kidney cancer of 1.04 (95% CI 1.00-1.08). The combined standardized mortality ratios for high occupational exposure were 1.67 (95% CI 0.83-2.99) for pancreatic cancer and 2.22 (95% CI 0.81-4.84) for kidney cancer.
Conclusions: Available studies consistently suggest a lack of an increased risk of most types of cancer from exposure to acrylamide. The main association that requires further monitoring involves kidney cancer.