Chemical carcinogenesis and chemoprevention: Scientific priority area in rapidly industrializing developing countries

  • J.I. Anetor
  • G.O. Anetor
  • D.C. Udah
  • F.A.A. Adeniyi


Occupational cancers are now a serious concern in industrializing developing countries where exposure levels to hazardous chemicals considerably exceed regulatory limits established in industrialized countries. The association between increasing use of chemicals and associated disorders and chemoprevention or anticarcinogenesis is insufficiently recognized in these countries. The eradication of chemicals would assist in cancer prevention. This is however, not pragmatic, thus the need to seek alternative means of cancer prevention. Cancer chemoprevention or anticarcinogenesis is the process of exposure of an animal including humans to a substance that will reduce the incidence of cancer that would otherwise develop. Lack of knowledge of the multiple pathways by which chemically induced cancer may arise has led to the erroneous view for a long time that the study of chemoprevention was academic. While this field is gaining an increasing and sustained attention in the developed countries it has received little attention in the industrializing developing countries where the incidence of cancers appears to parallel the pace of industrialization. Sub-optimal intake of specific micronutrients so common in developing countries may contribute to greater susceptibility to cancer. Micronutrient deficiency disorders (MDDs) is considered orders of magnitude more important than radiation because of constancy of exposure to a milieu promoting DNA damage. Zinc (Zn) for instance is an antioxidant, a component of p53 and a critical factor in gene expression. Poor Zn nutrition may be an important risk factor in oxidant release and development of DNA damage and cancer. A deficiency of Zn ranks among the top ten leading causes of death in developing countries. As chemo preventive agents are present in natural human foods abundant in developing countries, this should be one of the highest research priorities of the rapidly industrializing developing countries.

Key words: Chemical carcinogenesis, chemoprevention, DNA damage, oxidative stress, Industrialization, p53
protein, mutation.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1996-0786
print ISSN: 1996-0786