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Mutat Res. 2002 Jun;511(2):133-44.

Is metronidazole carcinogenic?

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Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, DF, México.


Metronidazole (MTZ, 1-[2-hydroxyethyl]-2-methyl-5-nitroimidazole), an antiparasitic and antibacterial compound, is one of the world's most used drugs. MTZ is potentially carcinogenic to humans due to the following facts: it is a proven mutagen in bacterial systems, it is genotoxic to human cells and also, it is carcinogenic to animals. However, due to inadequate epidemiological evidence, it is not considered as a risk factor for cancer in humans. As it will be discussed here, the existing population studies are deficient since they have not included sufficient sample size, the follow-up time has not been long enough, and the individual sensitivity to the drug might have been acting as a confounding factor. Due to the increasing use of this drug, more and improved studies are needed to elucidate its mechanism of genotoxicity and its carcinogenic potential.

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