Nitrosamines as potential environmental carcinogens in man

Clin Biochem. 1990 Feb;23(1):67-71. doi: 10.1016/0009-9120(90)90489-h.


Nitrosamines are ubiquitous in our environment and diet. Many nitroso compounds are carcinogenic in animals and most probably in man. Nitrosamines are formed from the reaction of nitrite with primary, secondary, or tertiary amines in an acid medium. Nitrate should be considered as a nitrosating agent because it can be converted to nitrite by microbial action. Many aliphatic and nitrogen-containing heterocyclic compounds can be nitrosated to form carcinogenic substances. The occurrence in food and in some drugs of several nitrosamines or their nitrosatable precursors is described. Several tobacco-specific nitrosamines have been considered as possible causative agents for human cancer. Nitrosamines may be implicated in the induction of certain human gastric cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Nitrosamines / toxicity*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Nitrosamines