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Exposure to heterocyclic aromatic amines from the consumption of cooked red meat and its effect on human cancer risk: a review.

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Department of Analytical Chemistry, Nutrition and Food Science, University of La Laguna, Spain.


This review covers the bibliographic data from the last 10 years on the possible carcinogenicity of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) in humans. Aspects such as red meat intake, cooking methods applied to red meat, and doneness of cooking are discussed from an epidemiological point of view. The role in the carcinogenicity of the HAAs has been assigned to two main factors: first, the very high frequency of consumption of red meat; and, second, very darkly browned meats from cooking. However, there are some uncertainties associated with epidemiological results such as the presence of other carcinogens, co-carcinogens and anti-carcinogens in the diet, analytical results on the content of HAAs in foods, food frequency questionnaires, and mainly genetic susceptibility to HAAs. It is concluded that there is not sufficient scientific evidence to support the hypothesis that human cancer risk is due specifically to the intake of HAAs in the diet.

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