Perspectives in Food Mutagen Research
Development of cancer in humans is closely related with diet. Factors such as the contents of fat, total calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in the diet are related to cancer development. Mutagens in foods have also been considered to be important in cancer development, because cancer cells are produced by genetical alteration of normal somatic cells. The most abundant mutagens in foods are probably flavonoids. Most of the mutagenicities of vegetables and fruits are due to their flavonoid contents. Mutagenic and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benzo(a)pyrene, are found in the neutral fraction of cooked foods. All mutagenic heterocyclic amines tested have been found to be carcinogenic. The carcinogenicities of food mutagens can be calculated from the results of long-term feeding experiments on rodents. The search for further mutagens in foods is necessary, but evaluation of their risk needs careful reconsideration based on recent knowledge of multiple genetic alterations in human cancers and multiple steps in human carcinogenesis.