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J Toxicol Environ Health. 1994 Apr;41(4):411-20.

Urinary excretion of methylamines in men with varying intake of fish from the Baltic Sea.

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Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.


Fish contain methylamines, especially trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), trimethylamine (TMA), and dimethylamine (DMA). Further, DMA may be formed TMA and TMAO. DMA is a precursor of nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a potent carcinogen. Levels of DMA, TMA, and TMAO in urine were used as indicators of the dietary exposure and in vivo formation of these amines in 44 men, representing 3 groups with different fish consumption habits. The levels of TMA (median 0.24 mmol/mol creatinine; range 0-2.7) and TMAO (median 38 mmol/mol creatinine; range 8-290) were significantly associated with the weekly intake of fish (r = .47, p = .001, and r = .53, p = .0002, respectively), while no such relation was found for DMA (median 24 mmol/mol creatinine; range 5-46). Further, urinary levels of TMA and TMAO were dependent on recent intake of fish.

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