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Nature 258, 610 - 611 (18 December 1975); doi:10.1038/258610a0

Carcinogenicity of the food additive furylfuramide in foetal and young mice


Institute for Cancer Research, Osaka University Medical School, Fukushima-ku, Osaka 553, Japan

FURYLFURAMIDE (so-called AF-2), 2-(2-furyl)-3-(5-nitro-2-furyl) acrylic acid amide, had been used widely (probably several tonnes yr−1) as an antimicrobial food additive in such food as fish sausage, mixed meat sausage, boiled fish paste and soybean curd throughout Japan until it was banned in 1974. Tonomura and Sasaki1 found that furylfuramide induces chromosome aberrations in cultured human lymphocytes and strong mutagenicity was found by Kada2 and Kondo and Ichikawa-Ryo3 with E. coil. Miyaji4 had reported, however, that neither tumour nor malformation was induced by furylfuramide in rats and mice, although Morris et al. 5 reported that some other nitrofuran derivatives induced tumours in rats. Ames and his associates6,7 have shown that almost 90% of chemical carcinogens so far tested are mutagenic in their specified tester strains of Salmonella typhimurium. Thus, furylfuramide has been an important exception to the presumptive rule that a carcinogen is, in principle, a mutagen. As fish sausage has been favoured so much by young Japanese children, it was necessary to reopen the question of the carcinogenicity of furylfuramide in view of its strong mutagenicity. I report here that furylfuramide induces low but significant yields of tumours in mice when administered at the foetal or young stage.



1. Tonomura, A., and Sasaki, M. S., Jap. J. Genet., 48, 291–294 (1973).
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3. Kondo, S., and Ichikawa-Ryo, H., Jap. J. Genet., 48, 295–300 (1973).
4. Miyaji, T., Tohoku. J. exp. Med., 103, 331–369, 381–388 (1971).
5. Morris, J. E., Price, J. M., Lalich, J. J., and Stein, R. J., Cancer Res., 29, 2145–2156 (1969).
6. Ames, B. N., Durston, W. E., Yamasaki, E., and Lee, F. D., Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 70, 2281–2285 (1973).
7. McCann, J., Spingarn, N. E., Kobori, J., and Ames, B. N., Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 72, 979–983 (1975).
8. Druckrey, H., Preussmann, R., and Ivankovic, S., Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci., 163, 676–696 (1969).
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10. Nomura, T., and Okamoto, E., Gann, 63, 731–742 (1972).

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