The age adjusted incidence of cancer has increased on average 1% annually since the beginning of this century, and cancer is now one of the most prevalent causes of death. Diet is suggested to be responsible for about 30-70% of all cancer cases. The heterocyclic amines (HCA) produced during processing of meats and fish at temperatures above 150 degrees C are candidate dietary causes. Amounts in food range from less than 1 ng/g in cooked meat or fish up to over 300 ng/g in well done flame grilled chicken breast meat. The most important parameters determining HCA amounts are cooking temperature and cooking time. 20 different HCAs are identified from cooked or grilled meats and fish. HCAs are causing cancer in various organs in mice, rats and cynomolgus monkeys. It is of interest to note that in rats, PhIP, the most abundant heterocyclic amine in cooked food, causes colon, prostate and mammary cancer, which are the most prevalent cancers in humans. Epidemiological studies show a correlation between intake of red meat and colon, mammary and prostate cancer. Based on the adverse effects of HCA, a reduced intake is recommended and practical advice on how this can be done is given.