Heterocyclic aromatic amines and their role in the induction of carcinogenesis
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Cancer is one of the most frequent causes of human death worldwide. It is a consequence of inherited DNA impairments or mutations induced by several exogenous factors. Diet is one of the most important exogenous factors, which is responsible for one-third cancer incidents in humans. Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA) arise during thermal processing of food. Based on the results on rodents and epidemiological data IARC classified HCA as probably (class 2A) or possibly (class 2B) carcinogenic to humans. After metabolic activation by cytochrome P450, N-hydroxy derivatives of HCA demonstrate strong mutagenic activity as they can form adducts with DNA. Experiments on laboratory animals indicated that HCA induce digestive tract, breast and lung cancers. Epidemiological data also confirm the association between HCA consumption and cancer appearance in humans. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate HCA from diet, there are several ways to limit the exposure to HCA and decrease their negative impact on human organisms.
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Jacek Piosik, Katedra Biologii Molekularnej i Komorkowej, Miedzyuczelniany Wydzial Biotechnologii, Uniwersytet Gdanski i Akademia Medyczna, ul. Kladki 24, Gdansk, Poland