Measuring and comparing p53 activity with baseline levels, the scientists found that liquid smoke flavoring, black and green teas and coffee showed up to nearly 30-fold increases in p53 activity, which was on par with their tests of p53 activity caused by a chemotherapy drug called etoposide.
Previous studies have shown that liquid smoke flavoring damages DNA in animal models, so Kern's team analyzed p53 activity triggered by the chemicals found in liquid smoke. Postdoctoral fellow Zulfiquer Hossain tracked down the chemicals responsible for the p53 activity. The strongest p53 activity was found in two chemicals: pyrogallol and gallic acid. Pyrogallol, commonly found in smoked foods, is also found in cigarette smoke, hair dye, tea, coffee, bread crust, roasted malt and cocoa powder, according to Kern. Gallic acid, a variant of pyrogallol, is found in teas and coffees.
Kern says that more studies are needed to examine the type of DNA damage caused by pyrogallol and gallic acid, but there could be ways to remove the two chemicals from foods and flavorings.
"We found that Scotch whiskey, which has a smoky flavor and could be a substitute for liquid smoke, had minimal effect on p53 activity in our tests," says Kern.
Liquid smoke, produced from the distilled condensation of natural smoke, is often used to add smoky flavor to sausages, other meats and vegan meat substitutes. It gained popularity when sausage manufacturers switched from natural casings to smoke-blocking artificial casings.
Other flavorings like fish and oyster sauces, tabasco and soy sauces, and black bean sauces showed minimal p53 effects in Kern's tests, as did soybean paste, kim chee, wasabi powder, hickory smoke powders and smoked paprika.
|Contact: Vanessa Wasta|
Johns Hopkins Medicine