Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, & Creatine?

Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, & Creatine?
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Even vegetarians could potentially be exposed to the carcinogens typically formed by cooking meat through eggs, cheese, creatine sports supplements, and cigarette smoke.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

More than 20 heterocyclic amines have been reported in cooked meats, fish, and poultry prepared under common household cooking conditions. To reduce one’s exposure to these cooked meat carcinogens, one could, of course, eat vegetarian—or, even just refrain from eating meat for 24 hours, and the levels of the two chief heterocyclic amines drop to zero. So, if you practice meatless Mondays, by Tuesday morning, the levels of PhIP and MeIQx (one of the most potent mutagens ever tested), become N.D. (non-detectable).

Now, for a third cooked meat carcinogen, they actually did find some in a few folks—even though they hadn’t eaten meat in 24 hours. That perplexed the researchers. Now, the four subjects that “had quantifiable amounts of IQ[4,5-b] in their urine after refraining from meat consumption” (which is an isomer of a powerful animal carcinogen, IQ)—they had each eaten cheese and/or boiled eggs as part of their diet, while abstaining from cooked meats. IQ and several other heterocyclic amines have been reported in fried eggs, so it’s possible “that IQ[4,5-b], which forms at temperatures well below 100° C, may be present in boiled eggs or possibly other foods containing creatinine, such as cheese.”

That brought up an interesting side note, though. What about all the “[d]ietary supplementation of creatine by sports enthusiasts” as a supplement, which turns into creatinine? They speculate that “high consumption of creatine” supplements “could result in [the] formation of “genotoxic [heterocyclic amines] in the body”—a cautionary note for both the vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Another finding of cooked meat carcinogens in a vegetarian was reported in a study comparing the levels of PhIP growing out in people’s hair. It “was detected in hair samples of all six [of the] meat-eaters” they tested, “but was…detected in one out of [the] six vegetarians.” Now, it was low, just above the kind of level of detection, so they kind of dismissed it, suggesting that “exposure occurs primarily through the consumption of cooked meats or poultry, and that nonmeat-derived sources of exposure…are probably negligible.”

But, not if you smoke. Remember, these carcinogens are “found in cooked meat, poultry, fish, and cigarette smoke.” Even if you ate meatless Mondays all the way through meatless Sundays, you can still be exposed, smoking cigarettes. Here’s a measure of PhIP exposure in smoking meat-eaters, nonsmoking meat-eaters, compared to smoking vegetarians, and nonsmoking vegetarians. So, it’s not enough to just eat healthy.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Ano Lobb. @healthyrx and Gideon via flickr; PackaSG via Wikimedia; and The Monday Campaigns, Inc

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

More than 20 heterocyclic amines have been reported in cooked meats, fish, and poultry prepared under common household cooking conditions. To reduce one’s exposure to these cooked meat carcinogens, one could, of course, eat vegetarian—or, even just refrain from eating meat for 24 hours, and the levels of the two chief heterocyclic amines drop to zero. So, if you practice meatless Mondays, by Tuesday morning, the levels of PhIP and MeIQx (one of the most potent mutagens ever tested), become N.D. (non-detectable).

Now, for a third cooked meat carcinogen, they actually did find some in a few folks—even though they hadn’t eaten meat in 24 hours. That perplexed the researchers. Now, the four subjects that “had quantifiable amounts of IQ[4,5-b] in their urine after refraining from meat consumption” (which is an isomer of a powerful animal carcinogen, IQ)—they had each eaten cheese and/or boiled eggs as part of their diet, while abstaining from cooked meats. IQ and several other heterocyclic amines have been reported in fried eggs, so it’s possible “that IQ[4,5-b], which forms at temperatures well below 100° C, may be present in boiled eggs or possibly other foods containing creatinine, such as cheese.”

That brought up an interesting side note, though. What about all the “[d]ietary supplementation of creatine by sports enthusiasts” as a supplement, which turns into creatinine? They speculate that “high consumption of creatine” supplements “could result in [the] formation of “genotoxic [heterocyclic amines] in the body”—a cautionary note for both the vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Another finding of cooked meat carcinogens in a vegetarian was reported in a study comparing the levels of PhIP growing out in people’s hair. It “was detected in hair samples of all six [of the] meat-eaters” they tested, “but was…detected in one out of [the] six vegetarians.” Now, it was low, just above the kind of level of detection, so they kind of dismissed it, suggesting that “exposure occurs primarily through the consumption of cooked meats or poultry, and that nonmeat-derived sources of exposure…are probably negligible.”

But, not if you smoke. Remember, these carcinogens are “found in cooked meat, poultry, fish, and cigarette smoke.” Even if you ate meatless Mondays all the way through meatless Sundays, you can still be exposed, smoking cigarettes. Here’s a measure of PhIP exposure in smoking meat-eaters, nonsmoking meat-eaters, compared to smoking vegetarians, and nonsmoking vegetarians. So, it’s not enough to just eat healthy.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Ano Lobb. @healthyrx and Gideon via flickr; PackaSG via Wikimedia; and The Monday Campaigns, Inc

Nota del Doctor

Caution may also be necessary with athletic protein supplementation. See Heavy Metals in Protein Powder Supplements. In general, Some Dietary Supplements May Be More than a Waste of Money.

More information on the Meatless Monday campaign can be found on their website meatlessmonday.com.

Measuring toxin levels in hair or nail clippings is a noninvasive way to measure long-term exposure levels. See Hair Testing for Mercury and Hair Testing for Mercury Before Considering Pregnancy for another instance of where it’s used.

Heterocyclic amines are not the only class of meat carcinogens also found in cigarette smoke. See my video When Nitrites Go Bad. While the body can detox itself of both nitrosamines and these cooked meat chemicals within hours or days, some pollutants found in meat can persist in the body. See Industrial Pollutants in VegansFlame-Retardant Chemical Contamination, and How Fast Can Children Detoxify from PCBs?

This is the final video of my four-part series on heterocyclic amines—or is it? In Estrogenic Cooked Meat Carcinogens, we explored the role of these cooked meat chemicals in tumor growth. In PhIP: The Three Strikes Breast Carcinogen, we explored their role in cancer invasion. Then, Reducing Cancer Risk In Meat-Eaters offered some mediation strategies. The next two videos also involve these carcinogens—but only as an experimental model of cancer formation, in order to test the power of various plants to stop this transformation.

Also, check out my associated blog posts for more context: Avoid Cooked Meat Carcinogens; Foods that May Block Cancer Formation; and Raisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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