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Toxicology. 2009 Mar 4;257(1-2):33-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2008.12.005. Epub 2008 Dec 9.

Carcinogenesis studies of cresols in rats and mice.

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National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, United States.


Cresols, monomethyl derivatives of phenol, are high production chemicals with potential for human exposure. The three isomeric forms of cresol are used individually or in mixtures as disinfectants, preservatives, and solvents or as intermediates in the production of antioxidants, fragrances, herbicides, insecticides, dyes, and explosives. Carcinogenesis studies were conducted in groups of 50 male F344/N rats and 50 female B6C3F1 mice exposed to a 60:40 mixture of m- and p-cresols (m-/p-cresol) in feed. Rats and mice were fed diets containing 0, 1500, 5000, or 15,000 ppm and 0, 1000, 3000, or 10,000 ppm, respectively. Survival of each exposed group was similar to that of their respective control group. Mean body weight gains were depressed in rats exposed to 15,000 ppm and in mice exposed to 3000 ppm and higher. A decrease of 25% over that of controls for the final mean body weight in mice exposed to 10,000 ppm appeared to be associated with lack of palatability of the feed. A marginally increased incidence of renal tubule adenoma was observed in the 15,000-ppm-exposed rats. The increased incidence was not statistically significant, but did exceed the range of historical controls. No increased incidence of hyperplasia of the renal tubules was observed; however, a significantly increased incidence of hyperplasia of the transitional epithelium associated with an increased incidence of nephropathy was observed at the high exposure concentration. The only significantly increased incidence of a neoplastic lesion related to cresol exposure observed in these studies was that of squamous cell papilloma in the forestomach of 10,000-ppm-exposed mice. A definitive association with irritation at the site-of-contact could not be made because of limited evidence of injury to the gastric mucosa at the time of necropsy. However, given the minimal chemical-related neoplastic response in these studies, it was concluded that there was no clear evidence of carcinogenicity in male rats or female mice exposed to the cresol mixture.

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