MANY chemicals are activated to carcinogens and mutagens by oxidative metabolism to alkylating agents1. Ascorbic acid has been reported to protect against tumour induction in mice by 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid, which induced bladder tumours2 and 7,12-dimethylbenzanthracene plus croton oil which induced skin tumours3. Ascorbic acid can also prevent the formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds from nitrite and amines, in vivo4 and in vitro5. I report here that mutagenesis by two preformed N-nitroso compounds is effectively inhibited by ascorbic acid.
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