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Environ Health Perspect. 1987 Aug;73:259-306.

Dose-response relationships for carcinogens: a review.

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California Public Health Foundation, California Department of Health Services, COMTU, Berkeley 94704.


We review the experimental evidence for various shapes of dose-response relationships for carcinogens and summarize those experiments that give the most information on relatively low doses. A brief review of some models is given to illustrate the shapes of dose-response curve expected from them. Our major interest is in the use of dose-response relationships to estimate risks to humans at low doses, and so we pay special attention to experimentally observed and theoretically expected nonlinearities. There are few experimental examples of nonlinear dose-response relations in humans, but this may simply be due to the limitations in the data. The several examples in rodents, even though for high dose data, suggest that nonlinearity is common. In some cases such nonlinearities may be rationalized on the basis of the pharmacokinetics of the test compound or its metabolites.

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