Nitrate, bacteria and human health

JO Lundberg, E Weitzberg, Jeffrey Cole, N Benjamin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

497 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrate is generally considered a water pollutant and an undesirable fertilizer residue in the food chain. Research in the 1970s indicated that, by reducing nitrate to nitrite, commensal bacteria might be involved in the pathogenesis of gastric cancers and other malignancies, as nitrite can enhance the generation of carcinogenic N-nitrosamines. More recent studies indicate that the bacterial metabolism of nitrate to nitrite and the subsequent formation of biologically active nitrogen oxides could be beneficial. Here, we will consider the evidence that nitrate-reducing commensals have a true symbiotic role in mammals and facilitate a previously unrecognized but potentially important aspect of the nitrogen cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-602
Number of pages10
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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