Background Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) are formed during the cooking of meats at high temperatures and are a suspected risk factor for cancer. However, inconsistent results have been reported on the HAA-cancer relationship in epidemiologic studies. This is potentially due to the difficulty in measuring HAA exposures and variation in individual susceptibilities to HAAs. Metabolites of HAAs form DNA adducts in cells, an initiating step in chemical carcinogenesis, which may represent an early carcinogenic effect of HAA exposure.
Methods This cross-sectional study aims to provide further understanding of the relationship between dietary exposure to HAAs and levels of HAA-DNA adducts measured in easily accessible white blood cells among a sample of 125 healthy volunteers. A detailed questionnaire was used in combination with a database that estimates average intake of HAAs in cooked meats. A blood sample was used to quantify HAA-DNA adduct concentration and determine polymorphisms in genes involved in HAA metabolism and DNA repair.
Results In the preliminary data, HAA-DNA adducts were detectable in 17 of 23 individuals. Results show that dietary HAAs were predictive of adduct levels (Spearman Correlation Coefficient=0.39, p=0.06). Further analyses on the remaining cohort will be conducted to model adduct levels as a function of dietary HAAs and other relevant dietary, lifestyle and genetic factors; gene-diet interactions will also be explored.
Conclusion This research aims to contribute to understanding the initial steps in this potentially carcinogenic pathway between meat consumption and cancer - important for assessing causality and the prevention of modifiable exposures.
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Funding Supported by the Queen's University Terry Fox Foundation Training Program in Transdisciplinary Cancer Research in partnership with CIHR.