Is there a correlation between the intake of fried meat and the development of cancer in the large intestine, breast and prostate? A new European study is currently trying to understand the impact of heterocyclic amines - developed in some heated foods - on the development of cancers. Preliminary findings suggest that plant foods could provide protection.
Scientists, led by associate professor Kerstin Skog from the Department of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry at Lund University in Sweden, report this week that plant foods may be able to protect humans against the detrimental effects of heterocyclic amines (HAs).
Heterocyclic amines in foods have been on the spotlight for many years. They develop in some heated foods at part per billion levels. Several epidemiological studies published in recent years show a correlation between the intake of fried meat and the development of cancer in the large intestine, breast and prostate, while other studies show no such relationship.
The objective of EU project QLK1-1999-01197 (H C AMINES) is to increase the understanding of the impact of heterocyclic amines on the development of cancers, in particular developing robust analytical methods for more than 20 known HA, assessing the exposure and identifying biological markers as well as dietary protectants against the harmful effects of the heterocyclic amines.
One part of the project focuses on dietary protectants against the toxic effect of HAs. Researchers found out using a biological model system that several extracts from plant foods strongly reduced the detrimental effect of HAs. Among the most effective of these protectants were extracts from green tea, red wine, blueberries, blackberries, red grapes, kiwi, watermelon, parsley and spinach.
The report that other significant results include the development of a validated analytical method (LC-MS), improved knowledge of the exposure of HAs - the estimated intake is between 0 and 15 micrograms per day, and a better understanding of the conditions for HAs development by heat processing methods. In addition, new findings reveal the considerable influence that the animal genotype (pigs) has on HA development in heat treated meat.
More information on the project can be obtained from Kerstin Skog