Carcinogens"; ACS Monograph; 1984, 182 (Chem.
compounds like nitrosamines are carcinogenic," explains Kuhnle.
Although red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb, contains important vitamins and nutrients, the IARC said consumption leads to the formation of N-nitroso
compounds, which are carcinogenic, in the colon.
It is also suspected that carcinogenic chemicals may form while the meat is being processed, including N-nitroso
compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Nitrate is converted in mammalian systems (through bacterial and mammalian enzyme action) to nitrite and then reacts with amines, amides, and amino acids to form N-nitroso
According to Torres, "Both processed and red meats contain high levels of N-nitroso
compounds, which can damage DNA, possibly leading to the development of abnormal or cancerous cells." Red meat contains high levels of heme, an iron compound, which has been shown to promote these N-nitroso
This endogenously formed nitrite, along with nitrite from dietary and drinking-water sources, can react with nitrosatable compounds such as amine- and amide-containing drugs to form N-nitroso
compounds in the stomach (Gillatt et al.
The study suggested that the iron in red meat, which is found in blood (heme iron) is thought to combine with protein and nitrates in food to create N-nitroso
, a carcinogen, in the gastrointestinal tract.
But a new study has refuted the role of hot dog-derived N-nitroso
compounds in colon cancer.
It is useful to recall that nitrate is a precursor in the body's formation of N-nitroso
compounds, which are potent carcinogens.