Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 619–635 | Cite as

A review: dietary and endogenously formed N-nitroso compounds and risk of childhood brain tumors

  • Marion Dietrich
  • Gladys Block
  • Janice M. Pogoda
  • Patricia Buffler
  • Stephen Hecht
  • Susan Preston -Martin


Maternal dietary exposure to N-nitroso compounds (NOC) or to their precursors during pregnancy has been associated with risk of childhood brain tumors. Cured meat is one source of exposure to dietary NOC and their precursors. Most epidemiological studies that have examined the role of maternal consumption of cured meats during pregnancy have found a significant positive association between maternal intake of cured meat and the risk of childhood brain tumor (CBT). NOC consist of two main groups, N-nitrosamines and N-nitrosamides. The carcinogenicity profiles of NOC suggest that N-nitrosamides rather than N-nitrosamines are the compounds that may be associated with CBT and that they should be investigated more closely in epidemiological studies. We present a review of the chemical and carcinogenic properties of NOC in connection with the findings of case–control studies. This approach may be helpful in determining the essential information that must be collected in future epidemiological studies on CBT.


diet N-nitroso compounds childhood brain tumors 



N-nitroso compounds


nitrogen oxides


volatile N-nitrosamines


non−volatile N-nitrosamines










Methylnitrosourea (N-nitroso-N-methyLurea)


Ethylnitrosourea (N-nitroso-N-ethyLurea)




N-nitroso-2-(hydroxymethyl)-thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid


N-nitrosothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid


N-nitrosothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid and related homologues.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marion Dietrich
    • 1
    • 4
  • Gladys Block
    • 1
  • Janice M. Pogoda
    • 2
  • Patricia Buffler
    • 1
  • Stephen Hecht
    • 3
  • Susan Preston -Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.The Cancer CenterUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Jean Mayer United States Department of AgricultureHuman Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts UniversityBostonUSA

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