Background: N-Nitroso compounds are thought to play a significant role in the development of gastric cancer. Epidemiological data, however, are sparse in examining the associations between biomarkers of exposure to N-nitroso compounds and the risk of gastric cancer. Methods: A nested case-control study within a prospective cohort of 18,244 middle-aged and older men in Shanghai, China, was conducted to examine the association between urinary level of N-nitroso compounds and risk of gastric cancer. Information on demographics, usual dietary intake, and use of alcohol and tobacco was collected through in-person interviews at enrollment. Urinary levels of nitrate, nitrite, N-nitroso-2-methylthiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (NMTCA), N-nitrosoproline (NPRO), N-nitrososarcosine (NSAR), N-nitrosothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (NTCA), as well as serum H. pylori antibodies were quantified in 191 gastric cancer cases and 569 individually matched controls. Logistic regression method was used to assess the association between urinary levels of N-nitroso compounds and risk of gastric cancer. Results: Compared with controls, gastric cancer patients had overall comparable levels of urinary nitrate, nitrite, and N-nitroso compounds. Among individuals seronegative for antibodies to H. pylori, elevated levels of urinary nitrate were associated with increased risk of gastric cancer. The multivariate-adjusted odds ratios for the second and third tertiles of nitrate were 3.27 (95% confidence interval = 0.76-14.04) and 4.82 (95% confidence interval = 1.05-22.17), respectively, compared with the lowest tertile (P for trend = 0.042). There was no statistically significant association between urinary levels of nitrite or N-nitroso compounds and risk of gastric cancer. Urinary NMTCA level was significantly associated with consumption of alcohol and preserved meat and fish food items. Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that exposure to nitrate, a precursor of N-nitroso compounds, may increase the risk of gastric cancer among individuals without a history of H. pylori infection.
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