Metrolab Blog

What are nitrosamines and why should I care?

post in thermoscientific AnalyteGuru™ Blog by Dr. Paul Humphrey

With one massive, global health concern on everyone’s mind these days, it’s easy to forget that other problems haven’t gone away and may even be just as important or becoming even more critical. They’re just not getting the media attention currently.

Nitrosamines are one such threat that was previously in the news. They are organic compounds featuring a nitroso group and amino group. They have the generic formula R2N-N=O where the R groups are typically alkyl in nature. They can occur naturally in some food and drinks including cured meats, some cheeses, beer(!), dried milk and fish. They are also commonly present in cosmetics and one of the difficulties is that they often form over time from the reaction of nitrite preservatives with amines. Nitrosamines are not directly carcinogenic per se but metabolomic activation can make them so.

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