Detoxifying Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with Chlorella vulgaris


Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been identified by scientific research as carcinogenic chemicals in the diet. 

Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs)

Heterocyclic aromatic amines are a group of 20 chemical compounds formed during cooking. They are found in meats that are cooked to the well done stage, in pan drippings, and in meat surfaces that show a crispy brown crust.

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Epidemiological studies show associations between intakes of heterocyclic aromatic amines and cancers of the:

  • colon
  • rectum
  • breast
  • prostate
  • pancreas
  • lung
  • stomach
  • esophagus

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service labeled several heterocyclic aromatic amines as likely to be carcinogenic to humans in its most recent Report on Carcinogens.  1 

The most common types of Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs) include:

  • 4,8-DiMelQx 2-Amino-3,4,8-Trimethylimidazo [4,5-f]Quinoxaline
  • 8-MelQx 2-Amino-3,8-Dimethylimidazo [4,5-f]Quinoxaline
  • IQ 2-Amino-3-Methylimidazo [4,5-f]Quinoline
  • MelQ 2-Amino-3,4-Dimethylimidazo [4,5-f]Quinoline
  • PhIP 2-Amino-1-Methyl-6-Phenylimidazo [4,5,b]Pyridine
  • TMIP 2-Amino-N,N,N-Trimethylimidazopyridine

HAAs form when Amino Acids and Creatine present in muscle Meats react at high temperatures (above 100° C). Temperature is the most important factor in formation of HAAs. Frying, Grilling, and Barbecuing produce the largest amounts of HAAs because the Meats are cooked at very high temperatures. Roasting and Baking are done at lower temperatures, so lower levels of HAAs are likely. Microwaving, Stewing, Boiling, or Poaching are done at or below 100° and cooking at this low temperature creates negligible amounts of HAAs.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are potent atmospheric pollutants. Some compounds have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.

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The EPA has classified seven PAH compounds as probable human carcinogens:

  • benz[a]anthracene,
  • benzo[a]pyrene,
  • benzo[b]fluoranthene,
  • benzo[k]fluoranthene,
  • chrysene,
  • dibenz(a,h)anthracene, and
  • indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene

The source of PAH’s include:

  • Car exhaust
  • The smoke generated by various cooking methods
    • High heat grilling
    • Barbequing
    • Smoked foods (meats, fish,etc.)
  • Tobacco smoke

Detoxifying Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with Chlorella vulgaris

A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled crossover study from January 2015 assessed the ability of Chlorella vulgaris to detoxify carcinogenic HAAs and PAHs.   Researchers analyzed urine specimens of 6 females with ages around 27 years for 2 weeks.  Urine specimens showed high levels of three HAAs, specifically:  2

  • MeIQx                 323.36±220.11ng/L
  • PhIP                    351.59±254.93ng/L
  • IQx-8-COOH       130.85±83.22ng/L

Consumption of Chlorella vulgaris significantly reduced urinary levels of MeIQx:

  • Before    430±226.86pg/mL
  • After       174.45±101.65pg/mL

Urinary levels of PhIP or IQx-8-COOH, a major metabolite of MeIQx, were not changed by chlorella supplementation.