A review: dietary and endogenously formed N-nitroso compounds and risk of childhood brain tumors

Cancer Causes Control. 2005 Aug;16(6):619-35. doi: 10.1007/s10552-005-0168-y.


Maternal dietary exposure to N-nitroso compounds (NOC) or to their precursors during pregnancy has been associated with risk of childhood brain tumors. Cured meat is one source of exposure to dietary NOC and their precursors. Most epidemiological studies that have examined the role of maternal consumption of cured meats during pregnancy have found a significant positive association between maternal intake of cured meat and the risk of childhood brain tumor (CBT). NOC consist of two main groups, N-nitrosamines and N-nitrosamides. The carcinogenicity profiles of NOC suggest that N-nitrosamides rather than N-nitrosamines are the compounds that may be associated with CBT and that they should be investigated more closely in epidemiological studies. We present a review of the chemical and carcinogenic properties of NOC in connection with the findings of case-control studies. This approach may be helpful in determining the essential information that must be collected in future epidemiological studies on CBT.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Meat Products / adverse effects
  • Nitrosamines / adverse effects*
  • Nitroso Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors


  • Nitrosamines
  • Nitroso Compounds
  • nitrosamides