17 HCAs


Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) are mutagenic compounds formed during cooking (especially meats) at high temperatures. PhIP (2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo [4,5-b] pyridine) is one of the most abundant heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in cooked meat. 

The “Three Strikes” Carcinogen

PhIP is particularly damaging to breast cells and a known trigger of breast cancer. Most cancer-causing agents are involved in either the ‘initiation stage’ of cancer, triggering the initial DNA mutation (like radiation), or in the ‘development stage’ of cancer, promoting the acceleration of the tumor. But PhIP has been called a three strikes carcinogen because it causes DNA mutations (strike one), promotes cancer growth (strike two), and increases cancer spread (strike three).

PhIP is formed from the reaction between meat proteins and sugar (from the animal’s blood) when combined with high temperatures, such as high heat grilling and frying. PhIP has been found to directly activate estrogen receptors on human breast cancer cells. PhIP is also found in cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, and incinerator ash, but the highest levels in food are found in fried bacon, fish, and chicken

How to Protest Yourself

PhIP is particularly carcinogenic when combined with other toxins. Avoid high heat cooking at home and protect yourself from environmental exposure to secondhand smoke. Reduce the effects of potentially unavoidable exposure to forest fire smoke, and traffic fumes, by drinking green tea and adding fresh rosemary to your diet.  The cancerous effects of HCAs, including PhIP, can be reduced by drinking green tea (Pluchino, 2014) and eating rosemary (Puangsombat, 2010). Fresh and dried rosemary contains rosmarinic acid, carnosol, and carnosic acid that appear to work together to inhibit the cancer-causing effects of HCAs.

HCAs Summary Checklist

O Avoid exposure to HCAs

O Take detoxifying supplements, when exposed to HCAs

O Add detoxifying foods to your daily diet.