Critical Reviews in food science and nutrition, 55 (10), 2015, 1383-1405
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a family of toxicants that are ubiquitous in the environment. These contaminants generate considerable interest, because some of them are highly carcinogenic in laboratory animals and have been implicated in breast, lung, and colon cancers in humans. Dietary intake of PAHs constitutes a major source of exposure in humans. Factors affecting the accumulation of PAHs in the diet, their absorption following ingestion, and strategies to assess risk from exposure to these hydrocarbons following ingestion have received very little attention. This review, therefore, focuses on concentrations of PAHs in widely consumed dietary ingredients along with gastrointestinal absorption rates in humans. Metabolism and bioavailability of PAHs in animal models and the processes, which influence the disposition of these chemicals, are discussed. Finally, based on intake, disposition, and tumorigenesis data, the exposure risk to PAHs from diet is presented. This information is expected to provide a framework for refinements in risk assessment of PAHs.