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Mutat Res. 2001 May;488(2):171-94.

Genetic toxicology of a paradoxical human carcinogen, arsenic: a review.

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Division of Human Genetics and Genomics, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, 4 Raja S.C. Mullick Road, Jadavpur, Calcutta 700032, India.


Arsenic is widely distributed in nature in air, water and soil in the form of either metalloids or chemical compounds. It is used commercially, as pesticide, wood preservative, in the manufacture of glass, paper and semiconductors. Epidemiological and clinical studies indicate that arsenic is a paradoxical human carcinogen that does not easily induce cancer in animal models. It is one of the toxic compounds known in the environment. Intermittent incidents of arsenic contamination in ground water have been reported from several parts of the world. Arsenic containing drinking water has been associated with a variety of skin and internal organ cancers. The wide human exposure to this compound through drinking water throughout the world causes great concern for human health. In the present review, we have attempted to evaluate and update the mutagenic and genotoxic effects of arsenic and its compounds based on available literature.

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