Part E of volume 100 of IARC’s prestigious series of monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans reassesses chemicals and complex exposures associated with certain personal habits previously classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1). Data since the previous respective assessments, in relation to tobacco smoking, betel quid and areca nut, alcohol consumption, household combustions and Chinese-style salted fish, led the IARC working group to the conclusions summarised below.

There is considered to be sufficient evidence that tobacco smoking causes cancer of the bowel (colorectum) and ovary, and limited evidence that it causes breast cancer.

A causal link between parental smoking and childhood cancers has been established – children born to parents who smoke are at significantly higher risk of developing hepatoblastoma (a rare embryonal tumour of presumably foetal origin), and an association between paternal smoking before conception and childhood leukaemia has also been demonstrated.

For second-hand smoke there is limited evidence that the larynx and pharynx are target sites.

For smokeless tobacco products and betel quid (without added tobacco), there is sufficient evidence for a link with cancer of the oesophagus, and there is limited evidence for an association between betel quid and liver cancer.

Turning to dietary exposures, a new and separate evaluation for acetaldehyde associated with alcoholic beverages is considered appropriate based on available epidemiological data. This substance is deemed "carcinogenic to humans”, with target sites of the oesophagus and the head and neck.

There is limited evidence of a relationship between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.

Consumption of Chinese-style salted fish may cause cancer of the stomach (although no clear mechanism was indicated).

Regarding indoor emissions from household combustion of coal, no new associations were identified.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (2012). IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 100. A review of human carcinogens. Part E: Personal habits and indoor combustions.

(summary table)

The above item was taken from the March 2012 issue of Toxicology and Regulatory News which is sent automatically to members of bibra (click here for more details).

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