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J Carcinog. 2012;11:5. doi: 10.4103/1477-3163.93700. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Plastics and carcinogenesis: The example of vinyl chloride.

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  • 1Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


The manufacture, use and disposal of various plastics can pose numerous health risks, including the risk of cancer. A model example of carcinogenic risk from plastics is provided by polyvinyl chloride, since it is composed of the known human carcinogen vinyl chloride (VC). In recent years, much has been learned about the molecular biological pathways of VC carcinogenesis. This has led to molecular epidemiologic studies of VC carcinogenesis in exposed human populations which have identified useful biomarkers of exposure, effect and susceptibility for VC. These studies have in turn provided the basis for new molecular approaches for the prevention and treatment of VC cancers. This model could have much wider applicability for many other carcinogenic exposures and many other human cancers.


Carcinogenesis; chemoprevention; molecular biology; molecular epidemiology; vinyl chloride

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