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Carcinogens - Reducing Exposure

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Decreased carcinogen contact along with improved methods for treating cancer provide two important means for curtailing the suffering, expense, and death associated with the disease. The documented existence of carcinogens has prompted a worldwide effort to detect additional cancer-causing agents. A variety of toxicological assessments, including the Ames test, are used to identify potential mutagens and carcinogens. When possible, established carcinogens, such as asbestos, are removed from the environment, home, and workplace.

Exposure can also be reduced if the population is provided with protective warnings, like those advising the use of sunblock to shield skin from the cancer-causing effects of ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. The cost and manpower of such efforts are enormous, but carcinogen identification is critical for ensuring that exposure is minimized. A great challenge is reducing exposure to the carcinogens to which people actively expose themselves, most notably cigarette smoke. Prolonged education programs have helped cut down the use of cigarettes, but continued education is needed for each new generation.

David A. Scicchitano


Lodish, Harvey, et al. Molecular Cell Biology, 4th ed. New York: W. H. Freeman, 2000.

Tomatis, Lorenzo. "The Identification of Human Carcinogens and Primary Prevention of Cancer." Mutation Research 462 (2000): 407-421.

Trichopoulos, Dimitrios, Frederick P. Li, and David J. Hunter. "What Causes Cancer?" Scientific American 275 (1996): 80-87.

Weinberg, Robert. "How Cancer Arises." Scientific American 275 (1996): 62-71.

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