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Environmental Mutagenesis and Disease in Human Populations

  • Arno G. Motulsky
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 31)

Abstract

Environmental chemicals can affect the genetic material and cause a variety of different mutations. Mutations in somatic tissues can lead to cancer while germinal mutations can cause various genetic diseases. The impact of germinal nutations on health will depend upon their frequency; their nature (point mutation vs. chromosomal change, dominant vs. recessive); and upon the mechanisms maintaining a given mutation in the population. Mutations causing early prenatal lethality have fewer public health effects than genetic diseases associated with prolonged medical and social problems. Differences between and within species in metabolism of environmental chemicals and in DNA repair make mutational estimates in humans imprecis?. Results on mutation frequency in somatic cells cannot be readily transferred to conclusions regarding germinal mutations until appropriate comparisons have been made. Studies on atom bomb survivors suggest an increased mutational frequency but such results failed to reach conventional statistical significance. Current estimates of the role of induced germinal mutation in human populations have wide confidence limits. An accurate assessment of the potential hazards of environmental human mutagenesis requires better fundamental understanding of human genetics and continued attention to studies on humans and their tissues and fluids. Crash programs on environmental mutagenesis at the expense of other biomedical research appear unwarranted.

Keywords

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Human Mutation Environmental Mutagen Pleural Cancer Germinal Mutation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arno G. Motulsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Medicine and Genetics, and Center for Inherited DiseasesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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