Unusually high levels of carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines in Sudan snuff (toombak)

A. M. Idris, J. Nair, H. Ohshima, M. Friesen, I. Brouet, E. M. Faustman, H. Bartsch

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68 Scopus citations


The aim of these studies was to determine the levels of carcinogenic tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNA) in Sudanese oral snuff (toombak) as recent retrospective epidemiological studies suggested an association between the use of toombak and subsequent development of oral cancer. We have analyzed the TSNA levels in 20 samples of Sudanese toombak, of four different quality levels, collected from five different vendors. Using GC coupled with thermal energy analysis, four TSNA were quantified in snuff extracts: N'-nitrosonornicotine (NNN), N'-nitrosoanatabine (NAT), N'-nitrosoanabasine (NAB) and 4-(methyl-nitrosamino)-l-(3-pyridyl)-l-butanone (NNK). Unusually high levels of these TSNA (mean; range, mg/g snuff, dry wt) were detected: NNN (1.13; 0.50-3.08); NAT (0.08; 0.02-0.29); NAB (0.22; 0.02-2.37); and NNK (2.31; 0.62-7.87). Previously, the highest levels of NNN and NNK reported in any snuff were 0.154 and 0.014 mg/g dry wt respectively. In comparison, the levels in Sudanese toombak were up to 20 and 560 times higher respectively. As the public health implications of these findings are significant, attempts should be made to reduce exposure to TSNA in oral snuff users in Sudan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1118
Number of pages4
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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