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Vet Hum Toxicol. 1993 Dec;35(6):521-38.

The effects of nitrate, nitrite and N-nitroso compounds on human health: a review.

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  • 1Population Medicine Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1314.


The effects of nitrate, nitrite, and N-nitroso compounds on human health are reviewed. Special emphasis has been placed on the role of these compounds on infant methemoglobinemia and gastric cancer. The discussion on methemoglobinemia includes the source of nitrate or nitrite, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and the contributions of age, gastric pH, gastrointestinal illness, and ingestion of vitamin C to this illness. The maternal transfer of these compounds and the potential effect on fetal death and malformation are also described. The etiology and development of gastric cancer is reviewed as well as the roles of nitrate, nitrite, and N-nitroso compounds in this disease. Endogenous nitrosation and the experimental and epidemiologic evidence linking these compounds to gastric cancer is examined. Other sections include adult methemoglobinemia and acute toxicity, hypo- and hypertension, Balkan nephropathy, slowing of motor reflexes in children, nitrate esters dependence. Sources of nitrate, nitrite, and N-nitroso compounds are detailed. Future areas of research are given.

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