Lung cancer in women is the leading cause of cancer death in Taiwan. Most Chinese women are non-smokers and 60% of female lung cancer patients have adenocarcinomas. Epidemiological data indicate that the incidence of lung cancer among Chinese women may be correlated with cooking fumes. However, the carcinogenic compound(s) in cooking fume aerosols is not defined. In the present study, the cooking aerosols from Chinese stir-frying of fish were prepared under domestic conditions. To determine the mutagenic compounds in the cooking aerosol, mutagens were purified by two steps of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and their mutagenicity was monitored with Salmonella typhimurium TA98. The mutagen was eluted as a single peak. The chemical structure of the mutagenic fraction of cooking aerosol from frying of fish was characterized by UV spectra and electrospray mass spectrometry. The bacterial indirectacting mutagenic compound in the cooking aerosol extract was determined to be 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5f]quinoxaline (MeIQx). An amount of 0.25 ng MeIQx/g of meat per min was estimated based on the mutagenic response. These data indicated that significant amounts of MeIQx (268.1 ng/Chinese dish of frying fish) were present in cooking aerosol in a short time. Chinese women spend ~ 1 h preparing meals everyday, thus, they may be exposed to significant amounts of MeIQx from cooking aerosols in the kitchen.
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