Gold, L.S., Slone, T.H., Stern, B.R., Manley, N.B., and Ames, B.N. Rodent carcinogens: Setting priorities. Science 258: 261-265 (1992). PDF
There is an enormous background of natural chemicals in the diet, such as plant pesticides and the products of cooking, that have not been a focus of carcinogenicity testing. A broadened perspective including these natural chemicals, is necessary. A comparison of possible hazards for 80 daily exposures to rodent carcinogens from a variety of sources is presented, using an index (HERP), which relates human exposure to carcinogenic potency in rodents. A similar ordering would be expected using standard risk assessment methodology for the same human exposure values. Results indicate that when viewed against the large background of naturally-occurring chemicals in typical portions of common foods, the residues of synthetic pesticides or environmental pollutants rank low. A similar result is obtained in a separate comparison of 32 average daily exposures to natural pesticides and synthetic pesticide residues in the diet. The findings do not indicate that these natural dietary carcinogens are important in human cancer, but rather cast doubt on the relative importance for human cancer of low dose exposures to synthetic chemicals.
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