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Mutat Res. 1987 May;185(3):243-69.

International Commission for Protection against Environmental Mutagens and Carcinogens. ICPEMC publication No. 13. The need for biological risk assessment in reaching decisions about carcinogens.


The prudent assumption that carcinogen bioassays in rodents predict for human carcinogenicity is examined. It is suggested that in certain cases, as for example the induction of tumors against a high incidence in controls, or in situations in which high dose toxicity may be a critical factor in the induction of cancer, the probability that animal bioassays predict for humans may be low. The term 'biological risk assessment' is introduced to describe that part of risk assessment concerned with the relevance of specific animal results to the induction of human cancer. Biological risk assessment, which is almost entirely dependent on an understanding of carcinogenesis mechanisms, is an important addition to present mathematical modeling used to predict the effects of animal carcinogens that have been demonstrated after high dose exposure, to the effects of the much smaller doses to which humans are perceived to be exposed. Evidence for the conclusions reached by biological risk assessment may sometimes be supported by a careful review of human epidemiological data.

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