Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 1015–1028 | Cite as

Validity of a self-administered food frequency questionnaire in the estimation of heterocyclic aromatic amines

  • Motoki Iwasaki
  • Tomomi Mukai
  • Ribeka Takachi
  • Junko Ishihara
  • Yukari Totsuka
  • Shoichiro Tsugane
Original paper



Clarification of the putative etiologic role of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) in the development of cancer requires a validated assessment tool for dietary HAAs. This study primarily aimed to evaluate the validity of a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in estimating HAA intake, using 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) level in human hair as the reference method.


We first updated analytical methods of PhIP using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI/MS/MS) and measured 44 fur samples from nine rats from a feeding study as part-verification of the quantitative performance of LC-ESI/MS/MS. We next measured PhIP level in human hair samples from a validation study of the FFQ (n = 65). HAA intake from the FFQ was estimated using information on intake from six fish items and seven meat items and data on HAA content in each food item. Correlation coefficients between PhIP level in human hair and HAA intake from the FFQ were calculated.


The animal feeding study of PhIP found a significant dose–response relationship between dosage and PhIP in rat fur. Mean level was 53.8 pg/g hair among subjects with values over the limit of detection (LOD) (n = 57). We found significant positive correlation coefficients between PhIP in human hair and HAA intake from the FFQ, with Spearman rank correlation coefficients of 0.35 for all subjects, 0.21 for subjects with over LOD values, and 0.34 for subjects with over limit of quantification.


Findings from the validation study suggest that the FFQ is reasonably valid for the assessment of HAA intake.


Food frequency questionnaire Heterocyclic aromatic amines Validity 



Coefficients of variation


Confidence interval






N 2-(deoxyguanosine-8-yl)-2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine


Dietary record


Electrospray ionization


Food frequency questionnaire


Heterocyclic aromatic amines




Liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization/mass spectrometry


Liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization/tandem mass spectrometry


Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry


Limit of detection


Limit of quantification






Multiple reaction monitoring




Pound per square inch


Solid phase extraction





We thank Dr. Loic Le Marchand (Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii), Dr. Robert J. Turesky (New York State Department of Health), Dr. Hiroyuki Kataoka (School of Pharmacy, Shujitsu University), and Dr. Hiroaki Itoh (Juntendo University Faculty of Medicine) for their helpful advice on the assay of HAA in hair. This study was supported by National Cancer Centre Research and Development Fund, a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (24501366) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and a Grant-in-Aid for the Third-Term Comprehensive Ten-Year Strategy for Cancer Control from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10552_2014_401_MOESM1_ESM.docx (63 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 64 kb)
10552_2014_401_MOESM2_ESM.ppt (379 kb)
Supplementary figure 1. Typical liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization/tandem mass spectrometry chromatograms of rat colon sample in multiple reaction monitoring mode, and fragmentation pattern of N 2-(deoxyguanosine-8-yl)-2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (dG-C8-PhIP)(21). (PPT 379 kb)
10552_2014_401_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (XLSX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Motoki Iwasaki
    • 1
  • Tomomi Mukai
    • 1
  • Ribeka Takachi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Junko Ishihara
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yukari Totsuka
    • 4
  • Shoichiro Tsugane
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Epidemiology, Research Center for Cancer Prevention and ScreeningNational Cancer CenterTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Division of Social and Environmental Medicine, Department of Community Preventive MedicineNiigata University Graduate School of Medical and Dental SciencesNiigataJapan
  3. 3.Department of Nutrition ManagementSagami Women’s UniversitySagamiharaJapan
  4. 4.Division of Cancer Development SystemNational Cancer Center Research InstituteTokyoJapan
  5. 5.Research Center for Cancer Prevention and ScreeningNational Cancer CenterTokyoJapan

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