Chemical Agents, the Environment, and the History of Carcinogenesis

  • Frederick F. Becker
Part of the Cancer, A Comprehensive Treatise book series (C)


It is evident from the studies reported in other chapters that the examination of the interactions of chemical carcinogens (as modified by numerous factors) with target macromolecules of target cells has achieved a remarkable degree of sophistication and has resulted in an enormous increase in knowledge. Despite this, there is no aspect of this process, from the early macromolecular alterations within the exposed cells to the demise of the host, that is fully understood. Further, knowledge of these promising advances and the gaps that still exist, as well as the threat of the process of chemical carcinogenesis, has intruded into the awareness of the public and with it fear, misinformation, political intervention, and often conflicts between scientists in the public arena. The key to the impact of this area on scientists and the public has been the revelation of the intimate relationship between man and the world milieu that we term generically the environment. However, examination of the use of this term reveals a diversity of definition among differing interests, and the failure to hold a common meaning has led to further confusion. In the field of carcinogenesis, the term “environment” has often been equated with “pollution” (an equally ill-defined term); from there the extrapolation to “chemical agents” is but a word away, and the concept “occupation” is just around the semantic corner.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick F. Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomic and Research Pathology, M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor InstituteUniversity of Texas System Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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