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Mold linked to esophageal cancer.

Mold linked to esophageal cancer

Several regions in the People's Republic of China have an unusually high incidence of esophageal cancer. Since the diet in one such region in Henan Province often contains food contaminated with molds, especially Fusarium, chemists at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' cancer institute in Beijing decided to look for a dietary link to the disease. In the July/ August JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY, the researchers report finding two nitrosamines--known as NMAMPA and NMAMBA--that commonly contaminate local millet and wheat flour, two of the region's food staples. In 1979, the group reported finding NMAMBA in cornbread--another regional staple--contaminated with mold.

"Most nitrosamines are potent carcinogens,' at least in animals, the researchers note. Moreover, they point out, some nitrosamines --particularly asymmetrically structured ones like those they just identified--induce esophageal cancer in animals. Noting that the role of fungi in nitrosamine formation has been largely ignored, the team showed that the Fusarium strains commonly found in the area's food can convert nitrates in the local water supply and compounds in the food staples into nitrosamine precursors.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 30, 1986
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