As nitrate consumption may have considerable importance for the in vivo formation of nitrites and potentially carcinogenic N-Nitroso compounds, we have studied salivary nitrite levels in patients with oesophageal cancer and adult volunteers before and after administering 100 ml beet juice containing 160 mg nitrate. Initial salivary nitrite levels were slightly lower in the cancer patients, perhaps because of previous malnutrition. In both groups there was a marked increase in salivary nitrite levels 90 minutes after ingesting beet juice and the attained levels in the two groups were similar. The results imply that formation of salivary nitrite is highly dependent on exogenous dietary nitrate and that there is no difference in the capacity to form nitrites between oesophageal cancer patients and healthy adult subjects.
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