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There May Be More Links between Big Tobacco and Big Food than We Realize

Posted Apr 06 2009 7:35pm

by Jennifer Pomeranz

In addition to the similarities between big food and big tobacco discussed by Brownell and Warner, the similarities between obesity and smoking include increased risk of cancer. Of course we know that smoking causes lung cancer. But, according to the National Cancer Institute, obesity increases the risk of cancers of the breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon, kidney, and esophagus. There are many mixed messages about whether certain foods or food preparation methods also contribute to cancer risk. One substance that is particularly controversial is acrylamide. Acrylamide is found in both cigarette smoke and in food products produced by high-temperature cooking. Acrylamide has been found at especially high levels in potato chips and French fries. Rodent studies have shown that acrylamide exposure increases the risk of several types of cancer in the animals, but human studies are incomplete. Cutting out foods that are potentially carcinogenic and definitely linked to obesity is probably a good response to this news either way. There certainly may be more links between big tobacco and big food found in the future.

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