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An Acad Bras Cienc. 2007 Dec;79(4):593-616.

Chemical carcinogenesis.

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Sciences, CECAV, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal. pamo@utad.pt

Abstract

The use of chemical compounds benefits society in a number of ways. Pesticides, for instance, enable foodstuffs to be produced in sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of millions of people, a condition that has led to an increase in levels of life expectancy. Yet, at times, these benefits are offset by certain disadvantages, notably the toxic side effects of the chemical compounds used. Exposure to these compounds can have varying effects, ranging from instant death to a gradual process of chemical carcinogenesis. There are three stages involved in chemical carcinogenesis. These are defined as initiation, promotion and progression. Each of these stages is characterised by morphological and biochemical modifications and result from genetic and/or epigenetic alterations. These genetic modifications include: mutations in genes that control cell proliferation, cell death and DNA repair--i.e. mutations in proto-oncogenes and tumour suppressing genes. The epigenetic factors, also considered as being non-genetic in character, can also contribute to carcinogenesis via epigenetic mechanisms which silence gene expression. The control of responses to carcinogenesis through the application of several chemical, biochemical and biological techniques facilitates the identification of those basic mechanisms involved in neoplasic development. Experimental assays with laboratory animals, epidemiological studies and quick tests enable the identification of carcinogenic compounds, the dissection of many aspects of carcinogenesis, and the establishment of effective strategies to prevent the cancer which results from exposure to chemicals.

PMID:
18066431
DOI:
10.1590/s0001-37652007000400004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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