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Mutat Res. 1991 Mar-Apr;259(3-4):277-89.

Carcinogenic N-nitrosamines in the diet: occurrence, formation, mechanisms and carcinogenic potential.

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  • 1German Cancer Research Centre, Institute of Toxicology and Chemotherapy, Heidelberg.


Nitrosamines form a large group of genotoxic chemical carcinogens which occur in the human diet and other environmental media, and can be formed endogenously in the human body. N-Nitroso compounds can induce cancer in experimental animals. Some representative compounds of this class induce cancer in at least 40 different animal species including higher primates. Tumours induced in experimental animals resemble their human counterparts with respect to both morphological and biochemical properties. Extensive experimental, and some epidemiological data suggest that humans are susceptible to carcinogenesis by N-nitroso compounds and that the presence of these compounds in some foods may be regarded as an aetiological risk factor for certain human cancers including cancers of the oesophagus, stomach and nasopharynx.

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