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Am J Med. 1985 May;78(5):811-6.

Volatile nitrites. Use and adverse effects related to the current epidemic of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome.


Early reports of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in homosexual men suggested that the cause might be related to homosexual life-style practices, including use of recreational drugs. Inhalation of volatile nitrites is a possible contributing factor in AIDS because their pharmacologic properties lead to toxicity. Metabolism of N-nitroso compounds produces mutagens, teratogens, and potent carcinogens in 39 different animal species, and volatile nitrites have deleterious effects on human lymphocytes in vitro and in vivo. In relation to the current AIDS epidemic, the timing of production and sales of volatile nitrites for recreational use is the only new life-style factor that might answer the question "why AIDS now?" Prevalence of nitrite use among male homosexuals is very high, and almost every reported case of Kaposi's sarcoma during the past three years includes a history of prior nitrite use. The age of the group of patients in whom Kaposi's sarcoma and AIDS are developing is consistent with a cohort initially exposed seven to 10 years ago. Cessation of nitrite use could reduce the epidemic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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