Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1993;19 suppl 1:67-70    pdf

Carcinogenicity of trace elements with reference to evaluations made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

by Boffetta P

The monograph program of the International Agency for Research of on Cancer has evaluated many trace elements for their carcinogenicity to humans. Five groups of compounds were considered human carcinogens: arsenic and arsenic compounds, beryllium and beryllium compounds, cadmium and cadmium compounds, hexavalent chromium compounds, and nickel compounds. Antimony trioxide, cobalt and cobalt compounds, lead and inorganic lead compounds, methylmercury compounds, and metallic nickel were considered possibly carcinogenic to humans. Antimony trisulfide, trivalent chromium compounds, metallic chromium, ferric oxide, organolead compounds, metallic mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, selenium and selenium compounds, and titanium dioxide were not classifiable. Trace elements studied to a limited extent include copper, manganese, tin, vanadium, and zinc. Among the problems are the lack of relevant data, the definition of active species, the extrapolation of the results of experimental studies to humans, the methodological problems of epidemiologic studies, and the possible anticarcinogenic activity of some trace elements.