Agony in disguise

ALL beer guzzlers bewarel This popular drink may after all be a repository of carcinogenic chemicals like nitroso- dimethylamine, according to scientists of the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

After obtaining samples of Indian beer from commercial outlets in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Punjab and analysing them, the researchers found that the levels of the cancer-causing chemical present in them ranged from zero to 24.7 parts per billion. A senior NIN scientist, Kamala Krishnaswamy said, "We suspect that nitroso-dimethylamine is formed during the high temperatures used in malt processing".

While beer manufactured abroad also contains the chemical, its level is much less (it is 0.6 parts per billion in Germany and 4.2 in Japan). The researchers at NIN believe that a modification in the manufacturing process may do the trick of reducing the nitroso-dimethylamine content.