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Med Hypotheses. 2001 May;56(5):589-98.

Consumption of carrageenan and other water-soluble polymers used as food additives and incidence of mammary carcinoma.

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  • 1College of Medicine, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1081, USA.


This study examined the hypothesis that the increasing incidence of mammary carcinoma in the USA in the twentieth century may be related to the consumption of carrageenan and possibly other water-soluble polymers. Widely used as food additives in the Western diet, the water-soluble polymers, also known as gums, are generally regarded as inert. However, the gum carrageenan which is comprised of linked, sulfated galactose residues has potent biological activity and undergoes acid hydrolysis to poligeenan, an acknowledged carcinogen. A time-trend analysis using age-adjusted incidence data and consumption data from established sources tested the hypothesis that increased consumption of the gums may be associated with increased incidence of mammary carcinoma. Correlations were determined using Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients, incorporating lag intervals of 10 to 35 years. This analysis demonstrated that increasing consumption of several gums correlates positively with increased incidence of breast carcinoma.

Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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