Formation and human risk of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines formed from natural precursors in meat

Nutr Rev. 2005 May;63(5):158-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2005.tb00133.x.


A group of heterocyclic amines that are mutagens and rodent carcinogens form when meat is cooked to medium and well-done states. The precursors of these compounds are natural meat components: creatinine, amino acids, and sugars. Defined model systems of dry-heated precursors mimic the amounts and proportions of heterocyclic amines found in meat. Results from model systems and cooking experiments suggest ways to reduce their formation and, thus, reduce human intake. Human cancer epidemiology studies related to the consumption of well-done meat products are listed and compared in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amines / adverse effects
  • Amines / analysis*
  • Amines / chemistry
  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Carcinogens / chemistry
  • Cooking
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / adverse effects
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / analysis*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / chemistry
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Mutagens / analysis
  • Mutagens / chemistry


  • Amines
  • Carcinogens
  • Heterocyclic Compounds
  • Mutagens