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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 May;10(5):559-62.

Dietary intake of heterocyclic amines, meat-derived mutagenic activity, and risk of colorectal adenomas.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Rockville, Maryland 20892, USA.


Meats cooked well-done by high temperature techniques produce mutagenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), but the amounts of these compounds vary by cooking techniques, temperature, time, and type of meat. We investigated the role of HCAs in the etiology of colorectal adenomas and the extent to which they may explain the previously observed risk for red meat and meat-cooking methods. In a case-control study of colorectal adenomas, cases (n = 146) were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas at sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, and controls (n = 228) were found not to have colorectal adenomas at sigmoidoscopy. Using a meat-derived HCA and mutagen database and responses from a meat-cooking questionnaire module, we estimated intake of 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx), 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx), 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) and mutagenic activity. We calculated odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals using logistic regression adjusting for several established risk factors for colorectal adenomas or cancer. The odds ratios (95% confidence interval; P for trend test) fifth versus first quintiles are: 2.2 (1.2-4.1; P = 0.02) for DiMeIQx; 2.1 (1.0-4.3; P = 0.002) for MeIQx; 2.5(1.1-5.5; P = 0.02) for PhIP; and 3.1 (1.4-6.8; P = 0.001) for mutagenic activity. When the three HCAs were adjusted for the other two, only the trend for MeIQx (P = 0.04) remained statistically significant. When we tried to disentangle the relative contribution of the three HCAs from the meat variables, we found that MeIQx remained significantly associated with risk even when adjusted for red meat but not vice versa. When MeIQx and well-done meat were analyzed in the same model, the risks were attenuated for both. Mutagenic activity from meat remained significantly associated with increased risk even when adjusted for intake of red meat or well-done red meat, whereas the red meat and well-done red meat associations were no longer significant when adjusted for total mutagenic activity. In conclusion, we found an elevated risk of colorectal adenomas associated with high intake of certain HCAS: Further, mutagenic activity from cooked meat consumption, a measure that integrates all of the classes of mutagens, was strongly associated with risk and explained the excess risk with intake of well-done red meat.

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