Journal Article

Reevaluating Cancer Risk Estimates for Short-Term Exposure Scenarios

N. Christine Halmes, Stephen M. Roberts, J. Keith Tolson and Christopher J. Portier

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 58, issue 1, pages 32-42
Published in print November 2000 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online November 2000 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/58.1.32
Reevaluating Cancer Risk Estimates for Short-Term Exposure Scenarios

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Estimates of cancer risk from short-term exposure to carcinogens generally rely on cancer potency values derived from chronic, lifetime-exposure studies and assume that exposures of limited duration are associated with a proportional reduction in cancer risk. The validity of this approach was tested empirically using data from both chronic lifetime and stop-exposure studies of carcinogens conducted by the National Toxicology Program. Eleven compounds were identified as having data sufficient for comparison of relative cancer potencies from short-term versus lifetime exposure. The data were modeled using the chronic data alone, and also using the chronic and the stop-exposure data combined, where stop-exposure doses were adjusted to average lifetime exposure. Maximum likelihood estimates of the dose corresponding to a 1% added cancer risk (ED01) were calculated along with their associated 95% upper and lower confidence bounds. Statistical methods were used to evaluate the degree to which adjusted stop-exposures produced risks equal to those estimated from the chronic exposures. For most chemical/cancer endpoint combinations, inclusion of stop-exposure data reduced the ED01, indicating that the chemical had greater apparent potency under stop-exposure conditions. For most chemicals and endpoints, consistency in potency between continuous and stop-exposure studies was achieved when the stop-exposure doses were averaged over periods of less than a lifetime—in some cases as short as the exposure duration itself. While the typical linear adjustments for less-than-lifetime exposure in cancer risk assessment can theoretically result in under- or overestimation of risks, empirical observations in this analysis suggest that an underestimation of cancer risk from short-term exposures is more likely.

Keywords: risk assessment; carcinogenicity; cancer bioassays; estimating cancer risks; stop-exposure studies

Journal Article.  7564 words. 

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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