Levels of Genotoxic and Carcinogenic Compounds in Plant food Supplements and Associated Risk Assessment

S.J.P.L. van den Berg, P. Restani, M.G. Boersma, L. Delmulle, I. Rietjens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study describes the selection, analysis and risk assessment of genotoxic and carcinogenic compounds of botanicals and botanical preparations which can be found in plant food supplements (PFS). First an inventory was made of botanical compounds that are of possible concern for human health because of their genotoxic and/or car- cinogenic properties. In total, 30 botanical compounds were selected and subsequently judged for their actual genotoxic and/or carcinogenic potential. Among the 30 compounds considered, 18 compounds were judged to be both genotoxic and carcinogenic. Interestingly, the majority of these compounds belong to the group of alkenylbenzenes or unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Subsequently, based on available carcinogenicity data and estimated daily human exposure that was determined focusing on the intake from PFS, the Margin of Exposure (MOE) was calculated for the alkenylbenzenes estragole, methyleugenol, safrole and ß-asarone. Calculating the MOEs for intake estimates of these alkenylbenzenes from PFS resulted in MOE values that were generally lower than 10,000 and often lower than 100. In some cases the MOE was even below 10 meaning that the estimated daily intake is in the range of dose levels causing malignant tumors in experimental animals. This result indicates that the use of PFS containing the genotoxic carcino-gens estragole, methyleugenol, safrole or ß-asarone might raise a potential concern for human health and would be of high priority for risk management
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1010
JournalFood and Nutrition Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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