U.S. dietary exposures to heterocyclic amines

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. May-Jun 2001;11(3):155-68. doi: 10.1038/sj.jea.7500158.


Heterocyclic amines (HAs) formed in fried, broiled or grilled meats are potent mutagens that increase rates of colon, mammary, prostate and other cancers in bioassay rodents. Studies of how human dietary HA exposures may affect cancer risks have so far relied on fairly crudely defined HA-exposure categories. Recently, an integrated, quantitative approach to HA-exposure assessment (HAEA) was developed to estimate compound-specific intakes for particular individuals based on corresponding HA-concentration estimates that reflect their meat-type, intake-rate, cooking-method and meat-doneness preferences. This method was applied in the present study to U.S. national Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) data on meats consumed and cooking methods used by >25,000 people, after adjusting for underreported energy intake and conditional on meat-doneness preferences estimated from additional survey data. The U.S. population average lifetime time-weighted average of total HAs consumed was estimated to be approximately 9 ng/kg/day, with 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) estimated to comprise about two thirds of this intake. Pan-fried meats were the largest source of HA in the diet and chicken the largest source of HAs among different meat types. Estimated total HA intakes by male vs. female children were generally similar, with those by (0- to 15-year-old) children approximately 25% greater than those by (16+-year-old) adults. Race-, age- and sex-specific mean HA intakes were estimated to be greatest for African American males, who were estimated to consume approximately 2- and approximately 3-fold more PhIP than white males at ages <16 and 30+ years, respectively, after considering a relatively greater preference for more well-done items among African Americans based on national survey data. This difference in PhIP intakes may at least partly explain why prostate cancer (PC) kills approximately 2-fold more African American than white men, in view of experimental data indicating that PhIP mutates prostate DNA and causes prostate tumors in rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amines / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooking*
  • Diet
  • Eating*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Amines
  • Heterocyclic Compounds