In an article published on November 24, 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a group of international experts discusses how the mechanistic characteristics of carcinogens can be used to manage data collected in support of hazard identification.

The ten key characteristics of carcinogenic chemicals were formulated in 2015 during two expert workshops convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France. These ten characteristics are “the abilities of an agent to 1) act as an electrophile either directly or after metabolic activation; 2) be genotoxic; 3) alter DNA repair or cause genomic instability; 4) induce epigenetic alterations; 5) induce oxidative stress; 6) induce chronic inflammation; 7) be immunosuppressive; 8) modulate receptor mediated effects; 9) cause immortalization; and 10) alter cell proliferation, cell death, or nutrient supply.”

To streamline the collection and management of mechanistic data in support of hazard identification, the published literature and other data available for a certain chemical can be systematically searched, organized, and evaluated according to the ten key carcinogenic characteristics outlined. The researchers illustrate the application of this approach using benzene and polychlorinated biphenyls as examples.


Smith, M. et al. (2016). “Key characteristics of carcinogens as a basis for organizing data on mechanisms of carcinogenesis.Environmental Health Perspectives (published online November 24, 2015).