Nitrosamines can cause cancers in humans as well as in a wide variety of animal species. The two most common nitrosamines N-Nitrosodibutylamine (NDBA) and N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as category 2 carcinogens.
Nitrosamines in Food
Research undertaken indicates that 90% of Nitrosamine compounds are carcinogenic. In food, nitrosamines are produced from nitrates and secondary amines, which often occur in the form of proteins. Nitrosamine formation can occur only under certain conditions such as high temperatures or in highly acidic conditions (the human stomach).
These processes lead to significant levels of nitrosamines in many foodstuffs, especially beer, fish, and fish by products. Also, meats and cheese that have been preserved in nitrite pickling salt can also produce nitrosamines.
- 1-Nitrosopiperidine (NPIP)
- 1-Nitrosopyrrolidine (NPYP)
- Nitrosomorpholine (NMOR)
- N-Nitrosodibutylamine (NDBA)
- N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA)
- N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)
- N-Nitrosodi-n-propylamine (NDPA)
- N-Nitrosodiphenylamine (NDFA)
- N-Nitrosomethylethylamine (NMEA)
Nitrosamines in Tobacco
Carcinogens found in tobacco are formed from nicotine and related compounds during the curing and processing of tobacco leaf. These are called ‘tobacco specific nitrosamines’ as they are only found in tobacco products. As they are tobacco specific they are also found in ‘smokeless’ tobacco products such as dipping tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco as well as cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco.
- 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1- (3-puridyl)-1-butone (NNK)
- 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1butanol (NNAL) which is a metabolite of NNK
- N’-nitrosonornicotine (NNN)