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Cancer Lett. 1992 Aug 31;65(3):227-32.

Inhibitory effect of diet related sulphydryl compounds on the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines.

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Bio-organic Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Bombay, India.


N-Nitroso compounds (NOCs) are known to be strong carcinogens in various animals including primates (Preussman and Stewart, (1984) N-Nitroso Compounds). Human exposure to these compounds can be by ingestion or inhalation of preformed NOCs or by endogenous nitrosation from naturally occurring precursors (Bartsch and Montesano, Carcinogenesis, 5 (1984) 1381-1393; Tannebaum (1979) Naturally Occuring Carcinogens, Mutagens and Modulators of Carcinogenesis; Shephard et al., Food Chem. Toxicol., 25 (1987) 91-108). Several factors present in the diet can modify levels of endogenously formed nitrosamines by acting as catalysts or inhibitors. Compounds in the human diet that alter nitrosamine formation would thus play an important role in carcinogenesis study. Earlier researchers have reported the nitrite scavenging nature of sulphydryl compounds (Williams, Chem. Soc. Rev., 15 (1983) 171-196). We therefore studied the modifying effect of sulphydryl compounds viz., cysteine (CE), cystine (CI), glutathione (GU), cysteamine (CEA), cystamine (CEI), cysteic acid (CIA) and thioglycolic acid (TGA) on the nitrosation of model amines viz., pyrrolidine (PYR), piperidine (NPIP) and morpholine (NMOR). Many of these compounds are present in the food we consume. The present work also describes the inhibitory effect of onion and garlic juices on the nitrosation reactions. Both onion and garlic are known to contain sulphur compounds (Block, Sci. Am., 252 (1985) 114-119). Most of these compounds behave as antinitrosating agents and their inhibitory activity towards formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines, under different conditions is described.

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