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Dietary carcinogens, environmental pollution, and cancer: Some misconceptions

Abstract

Various misconceptions about dietary carcinogens, pesticide residues, and cancer causation are discussed. The pesticides in our diet are 99.99% natural, since plants make an enormous variety of toxins against fungi, insects, and animal predators. Although only 50 of these natural pesticides have been tested in animal cancer tests, about half of them are carcinogens. About half of all chemicals tested in animal cancer tests are positive. The proportion of natural pesticides positive in animal tests of clastogenicity is also the same as for synthetic chemicals. It is argued that testing chemicals in animals at the maximum tolerated dose primarily measures chronic cell proliferation, a threshold process. Cell proliferation is mutagenic in several ways, including inducing mitotic recombination, and therefore chronic induction of cell proliferation is a risk factor for cancer.

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Ames, B.N., Gold, L.S. Dietary carcinogens, environmental pollution, and cancer: Some misconceptions. Med. Oncol. & Tumor Pharmacother. 7, 69–85 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02988534

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Key words

  • Pesticides
  • Animal cancer tests
  • Cancer causation