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Identifying Environmental Chemicals Causing Mutations and Cancer

  • Bruce N. Ames

Abstract

Damage to DNA by environmental mutagens (both natural and man-made) is likely to be a major cause of cancer (Doll, 1977; Hiatt et al., 1977; Tomatis et al, 1978) and genetic birth defects, and may contribute to heart disease (Benditt, 1977), aging (Burnet, 1974), cataracts (Jose, 1979), and developmental birth defects as well. Currently almost one-fourth of the population will develop cancer, and 5%–10% of children are born with birth defects. Damage to the DNA of germ cells can result in genetic defects that may appear in future generations. Somatic mutation in the DNA of the other cells of the body could give rise to cancerous cells by changing the normal cellular mechanisms, coded for in the DNA, that control andprevent cell multiplication. Exposure to mutagens occurs from natural chemicals in our diet, from synthetic chemicals (such as industrial chemicals, pesticides, hair dyes, cosmetics, and drugs), and from complex mixtures (such as cigarette smoke and contaminants in air and water).

Keywords

Cold Spring Harbor Vinyl Chloride Ethylene Dichloride Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Test 
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 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce N. Ames
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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