Implication of nonlinear kinetics on risk estimation in carcinogenesis

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Science  04 Mar 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4588, pp. 1032-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.6823565


Efforts in estimating carcinogenic risk in humans from long-term exposure to chemical carcinogens have centered on the problem of low-dose extrapolation. For chemicals with metabolites that interact with DNA, it may be more meaningful to relate tumor response to the concentration of the DNA adducts in the target organ rather than to the applied dose. Many data suggest that the relation between tumor response and concentration of DNA adducts in the target organ may be linear. This implies that the nonlinearities of the dose-response curve for tumor induction may be due to the kinetic processes involved in the formation of carcinogen metabolite--DNA adducts. Of particular importance is the possibility that the kinetic processes may show a nonlinear "hockey-stick" like behavior which results from saturation of detoxification or DNA repair processes. The mathematical models typically used for low-dose extrapolation are shown potentially to overestimate risk by several orders of magnitude when nonlinear kinetics are present.

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