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Cancer Surv. 1989;8(2):423-42.

N-nitroso compound formation in human gastric juice.

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Institute of Biological Research, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, Greece.


The gastric formation of N-nitroso compounds probably constitutes a major source of human exposure to this important class of environmental carcinogens. Following reduction of nitrate to nitrite by oral or gastric bacteria, reaction with nitrogenous constituents of gastric juice can occur leading to the in situ formation of N-nitroso compounds, probably primarily derived from amides, ureas or aromatic amines. While gastric nitrite concentrations are raised in the achlorhydric relative to the normal stomach, the latter, owing to its acidity, offers a particularly favourable environment for the formation of N-nitroso compounds, as indicated by the finding of greatly increased gastric concentrations of N-nitroso compounds following an oral dose of nitrate. This illustrates the importance of the dynamic nature of the relationships between the various parameters involved in the formation of N-nitroso compounds. While in principle the same is true of the process of inhibition of nitrosation by reducing agents such as ascorbic acid (since, depending on the relative concentrations of reducing agent, nitrite and oxygen, inhibition or catalysis of nitrosation can occur), ingestion of 1 g ascorbic acid brings about a significant reduction in the gastric concentration of N-nitroso compounds.

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