Cancer rates and mortality, types and causes: a synthesis


Glossary over Cancer rates and mortality, types and causes: a synthesis

Adverse health effect

A change in body function or cell structure that might lead to disease or health problems. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )


Aflatoxins are potent toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive substances that can be found on poorly stored grains and nuts.

They are produced as secondary metabolites by certain types of molds (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus).

Food contaminated with aflatoxins can affect both humans and animals and lead to liver cancer. (Source: GreenFacts)


The term alcohol refers to a family of chemicals that occur widely in nature and are mass-produced for use in antifreezes, fuels and some manufacturing processes.

Alcohol is commonly used to refer to alcohol-containing drinks such as wine, beer and spirits. In this case the alcohol, ethanol, has been produced by a process called fermentation. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to drunkenness and may be harmful to health. (Source: GreenFacts)

American Cancer Society

"The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide, community- based voluntary health organization. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has state divisions and more than 3,400 local offices."

"The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community- based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service."

"The American Cancer Society's international mission concentrates on capacity building in developing cancer societies and on collaboration with other cancer-related organizations throughout the world in carrying out shared strategic directions." (Source: ACS website  )


The smallest particle of an element that still conserves the chemical properties of that element. Atoms are composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons. (Source: GreenFacts)

Background level(s)

Levels of chemical or physical agents that are normally found in the environment.

Two types of background levels may exist for chemical substances or physical agents: (a) Naturally occurring levels: ambient concentrations of substances or agents present in the environment, without human influence; (b) Anthropogenic levels: Concentrations of substances or agents present in the environment due to human-made, non-site sources (e.g., automobiles, industries). (Source: US EPA Glossary of IRIS Terms  )


Bacteria are a major group of micro-organisms that live in soil, water, plants, organic matter, or the bodies of animals or people. They are microscopic and mostly unicellular, with a relatively simple cell structure.

Some bacteria cause diseases such as tetanus, typhoid fever, pneumonia, syphilis, cholera, and tuberculosis.

Bacteria play a role in the decomposition of organic matter and other chemical processes. (Source: GreenFacts)



Bioaccumulation is used to describe the increase in concentration of a substance in an organism over time.

Bioaccumulative substances tend to be fat soluble and not to be broken down by the organism. (Source: GreenFacts )


Biologic intake

The process by which a substance crosses the outer boundary of an organism without passing an absorption barrier, e.g. through ingestion or inhalation. (Source: US EPA glossary )


Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight and obesity in adults.

It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2).

BMI = weight (kg)
height (m) x height (m)

For example, an adult who weighs 70kg and whose height is 1.75m will have a BMI of 22.9.

BMI = 70 (kg)
1.75 (m) x 1.75 (m)
= 22.9

BMI values are age-independent and the same for both sexes. (Source: WHO BMI classification  )


Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse changes lives by bringing people and knowledge together to reduce the harm of alcohol and other drugs on society.

For more than 25 years, we have provided guidance and advice on addictions and substance use to public, private and non-governmental organizations. View the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Act to see our official beginnings, spearheaded by CCSA’s founding chair, H. David Archibald.

Our Vision is that all people in Canada live in a healthy society free of alcohol- and other drug-related harm.

Our Mission is to provide national leadership and advance solutions to address alcohol- and other drug-related harm.

Together with our partners, we are working to improve the health and safety of Canadians. We will achieve this goal by nurturing a knowledge exchange environment where research guides policy and evidence-informed actions enhance effectiveness in the field. (Source:   )


Any one of a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body become abnormal and have the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby tissues and other parts of the body (malignancy). (Source: GreenFacts )


Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. (Source: /  )

Cancer risk

A theoretical risk for getting cancer if exposed to a substance every day for 70 years (a lifetime exposure). The true risk might be lower. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )



A substance, factor or situation that causes or induces cancer. (Source: GreenFacts )


A carcinoma is a cancerous tumour that starts in tissues covering or lining various organs of the body or in glands, such as skin, uterus, prostate, breast, or stomach. Carcinomas tend to infiltrate into nearby tissues. They may also spread to distant organs such as lung, bone, liver, or the brain. Carcinomas are the most common type of cancer. (Source: GreenFacts)


The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)



The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus that opens up into the vagina. It is often called the neck of the uterus.

Please note that "cervical" can mean either pertaining to the cervix of the uterus or pertaining to the neck region of the spine containing the first seven vertebrae. (Source: GreenFacts)


Chemical element

A substance which cannot be separated into its constituent parts and still retains its chemical identity. For example, sodium (Na) is an element. (Source: US EPA Drinking Water Glossary  )



Relating to or affecting the colon and the rectum. (Source: GreenFacts)



A substance that is either present in an environment where it does not belong or is present at levels that might cause harmful effects to humans or the environment. (Source: GreenFacts)

Controlled study

An experiment or clinical trial in which two groups are used for comparison purpose.


Developmental effects

Effects in the developing offspring due to exposure before conception (either parent), prenatally, or postnatally to the time of sexual maturation. Developmental effects may be expressed at any time in the life span of the organism. Developmental effects are a subset of reproductive effects. (Source: CSIRO CSIRO biological effects and safety of EMR Glossary  )

Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment

RIVM works to prevent and control outbreaks of infectious diseases.

We promote public health and consumer safety, and we help to protect the quality of the environment.

RIVM collects and collates knowledge and information from various sources, both national and international.

We apply this knowledge ourselves, and we place it at the disposal of policy-makers, researchers, regulatory authorities and the general public.

Each year, RIVM produces numerous reports on all aspects of public health, nutrition and diet, health care, disaster management, nature and the environment. (Source:  )

Electric current

The electrical current is a physical phenomenon caused by the displacement of electrons or ions that induce electric fields. By convention, current is considered to be a flux of positive charges.

The intensity of the current is the quantity of charge which passes in a conductor per unit of time. The intensity of the current is measured in Amperes (A). (Source: Belgian BioElectroMagnetic Group Dictionary   )


Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are a combination of invisible electric and magnetic fields of force. They occur both naturally and due to human activity. (Source: GreenFacts)


Electromagnetic spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the entire range of wavelengths of all known electromagnetic radiations. It includes:

Gamma rays have the smallest wavelengths and highest frequencies known. They are high energy waves capable of travelling long distances through air and are the most penetrating waves.

X-rays have longer wavelengths than gamma rays but smaller wavelengths and therefore higher energy than ultraviolet radiation. They have been used in various applications in science and industry and are primarily used in medicine for instance in radiography. They are a form of ionizing radiation and as such can be dangerous. X-rays are emitted by electrons outside the nucleus, while gamma rays are emitted by the nucleus.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is defined as the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between X-rays and visible light. More...

Visible light – also known as the visible spectrum – is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that human eyes can detect. It covers all colours from blue at 400 nm to red at 700 nm, with blue light having more energy than red light.

Infrared (IR) radiation – also referred to as thermal radiation – is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum lying between visible light and microwaves. The most important natural source of infrared radiation is the sun.

Radio waves have long wavelengths, ranging from a few centimetres to many thousands of kilometres in length. They are used among other things for television, cell phone and radio communications. (Source: GreenFacts)


Elemental Arsenic

The element with the symbol "As" and the atomic number 33. Its molecular weight is 74.92160 g. It can be classified as semi metallic and its colour is observed to be metallic grey. (Source: GreenFacts)


Endometrial tissue

The layer of tissue that lines the uterus. (Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms  )


The study of the patterns, causes, and control of disease in groups of people. (Source: NCI NCI dictionary  )


Primary female sex hormone produced mainly by the ovaries. Estrogens are also produced in smaller amounts in the testes of men.

In women, estrogens are primarily involved with the development of female sexual characteristics and the maintenance of the reproductive system and menstrual cycle.

Estrogens are also thought to be important in the development of nerve cells and in the maintenance of a healthy heart.


European Union

"The European Union (EU) is a family of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. It is not a State intended to replace existing states, but it is more than any other international organisation. The EU is, in fact, unique. Its Member States have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level.This pooling of sovereignty is also called "European integration". " (Source: EU website  )


Contact of the cells of an organism with a substance, micro-organism or radiation. In the case of humans, this may involve contact with a substance or agent by swallowing, breathing, or through the skin or eyes. Exposure may be short-term [acute exposure], of intermediate duration, or long-term [chronic exposure].

Exposure can be divided into external and internal.

External exposure refers to the whole dose to which an organism is exposed.

Internal exposure refers only to that fraction of the initial chemical dose that is absorbed and distributed throughout the body via systemic circulation. (Source: GreenFacts)


French National Institute of Health and Medical Research

Founded in 1964, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) is a public scientific and technological institute which operates under the joint authority of the French Ministry of Health and French Ministry of Research.

As the only French public research institute to focus entirely on human health, in 2008 Inserm took on the responsibility for the strategic, scientific and operational coordination of biomedical research. This key role as coordinator comes naturally to Inserm thanks to the scientific quality of its teams and its ability to conduct translational research, from the laboratory to the patient’s bed. (Source: Inserm  )


Frequency is the measurement of the number of times that a repeated event occurs per unit of time.

The frequency of wave-like patterns including sound, electromagnetic waves (such as radio or light), electrical signals, or other waves, expresses the number of cycles of the repetitive waveform per second.

In SI units, the result is measured in Hertz (Hz), named after the German physicist, Heinrich Rudolf Hertz. 1 Hz means one cycle (or wave) per second.

Frequency has an inverse relationship to the concept of wavelength (the distance between two peeks) such that the frequency is equal to the velocity divided by the wavelength. (Source: GreenFacts)



The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. (Source: NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms  )


The complete set of genes of an organism.

The human genome for instance contains 30 000 to 40 000 genes. (Source: GreenFacts)


The study of genes and their function. (Source: US EPA Computational Toxicology Research Glossary  )


Inflammation of the liver caused by viruses (viral hepatitis) or by chronic exposure to medicines or toxins such as alcohol.

Symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin caused by the buildup of bile pigments in the body), fever, appetite loss and gastrointestinal upset. (Source: GreenFacts)



Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and then sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function. (Source: EMCOM Endocrine disruptors glossary  )

Human health

A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The health of a whole community or population is reflected in measurements of disease incidence and prevalence, age-specific death rates, and life expectancy. (Source: MA Glossary  )

Immune system

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. (Source: NIAID Immune System   )



The frequency of a disease may be measured in two (standard) ways:

- Incidence is the number of new cases detected in the population at risk for the disease during a specific period.

- Prevalence (Source: Health canada Diabetes in Canada  )


It is the growth of a parasite within the human body that causes illness. It can be a virus, a bacteria, a fungus or a protozoa. (Source: GreenFacts )

International Agency for Research on Cancer

"The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO).

IARC's mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships."

It has collaborated to and published many highly recognized scientific publications.

Most publications are availaible from the webpage IARC Monographs Programme on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to humans , "The IARC Monographs series publishes authoritative independent assessments by international experts of the carcinogenic risks posed to humans by a variety of agents, mixtures and exposures."

IARC distinguishes between four groups of compounds or physical factors based on the existing scientific evidence for carcinogenicity: Standard IARC classification (Source: IARC website  )


A heavy metal that is hazardous to health if breathed or swallowed. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by […] laws and regulations. (Source: US EPA  Glossary )


An area of abnormal tissue. A lesion may be benign (non-cancercous) or malignant (cancerous). (Source: NCI dictionary  )


The liver is a big reddish-brow organ lying beneath the diaphragm on the right side. The liver is made up for a great part of liver cells which absorb nutrients and detoxify and remove harmful substances from the blood such as drugs and alcohol. The liver has many other vital functions and there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver.

Other liver functions include:

  • controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood
  • fighting infections in the body, particularly infections arising in the bowel.
  • manufacturing bile, a kind of digestive juice which aids in the digestion of fats
  • storing iron, certain vitamins and other essential chemicals
  • breaking down food and turning it into energy
  • manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones
  • making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues.

Cancerous. Progressive and uncontrolled growth. Malignant neoplasms or tumours can invade and destroy other tissues and spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or lymphatics (metastasis). (Source: GreenFacts )

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI) was built according to a template laid out in the 2006 Report of the Energy Research Council commissioned by President Hockfield. The report called for new approaches to multidisciplinary research, education across school and department boundaries, a more energy efficient campus reached in part through student-led projects, and outreach to the policy world through technically grounded analysis. It also emphasized the importance of another MIT strength – partnering with industry as a prime locus for the clean energy transformation needed to address economic, environmental, and security concerns associated with the current energy system. (Source:  )

Mean / Median

In statistics, mean and median both provide an idea of where the “middle” of a sample is.

The mean (or average) is the sum of all scores divided by the number of scores. For instance the sum of individual ages of persons in a group divided by the number of persons in the group, gives the average age.

The median is the number in a range of scores that falls exactly in the middle so that 50% of the cases are above or below. (Source: GreenFacts)



The conversion or breakdown of a substance from one form to another by an enzyme. (Source: GreenFacts, based on ATSDR Glossary of Terms )



A substance that is the product of biological changes to a chemical. (Source: US EPA Glossary  )



A disease or the incidence of a disease within a population. (Source: GreenFacts)


Death. Usually the cause (a specific disease, a condition, or an injury) is stated. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms   )

Mortality rate

A measure of frequency of occurrence of death in a defined population during a specified interval of time. (Source: CDC Reproductive Health Glossary   )


A substance or physical agent that causes mutations, i.e. permanently alters the DNA of a cell. (Source: GreenFacts)



Any permanent change in the DNA of a cell.

Mutations may be caused by mistakes during cell division, or they may be caused by exposure to DNA-damaging agents in the environment.

Mutations can be harmful, beneficial, or have no effect. If they occur in cells that make eggs or sperm, they can be inherited; if mutations occur in other types of cells, they are not inherited.

Certain mutations may lead to cancer or other diseases. (Source: NCI dictionary   )


Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater (Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO Obesity  )



Exposure pathway is the physical route by which a chemical substance transfers from a source to exposed organisms.

Potential pathways include air, surface water, groundwater, soil, plants, animals and humans. May not necessarily always refer to contaminants. (Source: GreenFacts)


A toxic chemical product that kills harmful organisms (e.g., insecticides, fungicide, weedicides, rodenticides, acaricides). (Source: FAO Glossary of biotechnology & genetic engineering  )



A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )


Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

A computer-based medical imaging technique for examining blood flow in the brain and in other body tissues making use of slightly radioactive tracer that emit positrons. The tracer which is linked to sugar molecules is injected into the subject’s blood and then it’s concentration is measured using the emitted positrons.As cells need sugar to function; active cells can be located by visualizing places where greater amounts of radioactive tracers are found. (Source: GreenFacts)



The pronounced deprivation of well-being.

Income poverty refers to a particular formulation expressed solely in terms of per capita or household income. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )


The frequency of a disease may be measured in two (standard) ways:

  • Prevalence is the total number of persons known to have had the disease at any time during a specific period. It gives an idea of the importance/burden of disease at a given time, and it is widely used in public health monitoring and planning.
  • Incidence
Primary & secondary particles

Primary particles are directly released into the atmosphere by wind, combustion processes, or human activities.

Secondary particles are those that form in the atmosphere from other gaseous pollutants, particularly sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds. (Source: GreenFacts)

Production / Productivity

Production is the process of creating, growing, manufacturing, or improving goods and services. It also refers to the quantity produced.

In economics, productivity is used to measure the efficiency or rate of production. It is the amount of output (e.g. number of goods produced) per unit of input (e.g. labor, equipment, and capital).

In biology, productivity is a measure of the efficiency with which a biological system converts energy into growth. (Source: GreenFacts)


Energy moving in the form of particles or waves. Familiar radiations are heat, light, radio waves, and microwaves. Ionizing radiation is a very high-energy form of electromagnetic radiation. (Source: US Center for Disease Control and Prevention Glossary of Radiological Terms   )



The spontaneous emission of ionizing radiation from the nucleus of an unstable atom. Radioisotopes lose particles and energy through this process. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Energy Information Administration Glossary   )



A radioactive gas that is released by the breakdown of uranium, a substance found in some soils and rocks. It can get inside buildings by diffusing through the soil and can also be released from concrete.

Breathing in too much radon can damage lung cells and lead to lung cancer. (Source: GreenFacts )

Reduction (in fish processing)

Transformation of fish into fish meal and oil. (Source: FAO Fisheries Glossary  )


The probability that something will cause injury or harm. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Risk management

The process, distinct from risk assessment, of weighing policy alternatives in consultation with interested parties, considering risk assessment and other legitimate factors, and, if need be, selecting appropriate prevention and control measure. (Source: Official Journal of the European Communities 2002 L 31   )

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

A newly identified acute respiratory syndrome caused by a new virus, the SARS coronavirus, which is believed to recently have crossed the species barrier from animals to humans.

Signs and symptoms are similar to flu at the outset but progress to pneumonia-like symptoms. Whilst most infected patients have recovered, the lack of specific treatment options has resulted in mortalities.

When SARS spreads, it is mostly through breathing in droplets transported through the air when someone with SARS coughs or sneezes. (Source: GreenFacts)


Skin cancer

A tumour that grows from skin cells and which can have different causes, including repeated severe sunburns or long-term exposure to the sun. (Source: GreenFacts, based on EcoHealth; Glossary   )


Standard IARC classification

Compounds or physical factors assessed by IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) are classified in four groups based on the existing scientific evidence for carcinogenicity.

Group 1: "Carcinogenic to humans" There is enough evidence to conclude that it can cause cancer in humans.
IARC definition and list of compounds

Group 2A: "Probably carcinogenic to humans" There is strong evidence that it can cause cancer in humans, but at present it is not conclusive.
IARC definition and list of compounds

Group 2B: "Possibly carcinogenic to humans" There is some evidence that it can cause cancer in humans but at present it is far from conclusive.
IARC definition and list of compounds

Group 3: "Unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans" There is no evidence at present that it causes cancer in humans.
IARC definition and list of compounds

Group 4: "Probably not carcinogenic to humans" There is strong evidence that it does not cause cancer in humans.
IARC definition and compound listed

Standard IARC classification categorization descriptions

Group 1: "The agent (mixture) is carcinogenic to humans . The exposure circumstance entails exposures that are carcinogenic to humans."

"This category is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. Exceptionally, an agent (mixture) may be placed in this category when evidence of carcinogenicity in humans is less than sufficient but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals and strong evidence in exposed humans that the agent (mixture) acts through a relevant mechanism of carcinogenicity."

Examples include asbestos, benzene and ionizing radiation.
List of agents evaluated as group 1 to date. 

Group 2 (A and B): "This category includes agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for which, at one extreme, the degree of evidence of carcinogenicity in humans is almost sufficient, as well as those for which, at the other extreme, there are no human data but for which there is evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances are assigned to either group 2A (probably carcinogenic to humans) or group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans) on the basis of epidemiological and experimental evidence of carcinogenicity and other relevant data."

Group 2A: "The agent (mixture) is probably carcinogenic to humans . The exposure circumstance entails exposures that are probably carcinogenic to humans."

"This category is used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some cases, an agent (mixture) may be classified in this category when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals and strong evidence that the carcinogenesis is mediated by a mechanism that also operates in humans. Exceptionally, an agent, mixture or exposure circumstance may be classified in this category solely on the basis of limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans."

Examples include diesel engine exhaust, Formaldehyde and PCBs.
List of agents evaluated as group 2A to date. 

Group 2B: "The agent (mixture) is possibly carcinogenic to humans. "

"The exposure circumstance entails exposures that are possibly carcinogenic to humans.

This category is used for agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some instances, an agent, mixture or exposure circumstance for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but limited evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals together with supporting evidence from other relevant data may be placed in this group."

Examples include glass wool, styrene and gasoline exhaust.
List of agents evaluated as group 2B to date. 

Group 3: "The agent (mixture) is unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans. "

"This category is used most commonly for agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for which the evidence of carcinogenicity is inadequate in humans and inadequate or limited in experimental animals. Exceptionally, agents (mixtures) for which the evidence of carcinogenicity is inadequate in humans but sufficient in experimental animals may be placed in this category when there is strong evidence that the mechanism of carcinogenicity in experimental animals does not operate in humans.

Agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances that do not fall into any other group are also placed in this category."

Examples include anthracene, caffeine and fluorescent lighting.
List of agents evaluated as group 3 to date. 

Group 4: "The agent (mixture) is probably not carcinogenic to humans."

"This category is used for agents or mixtures for which there is evidence suggesting lack of carcinogenicity in humans and in experimental animals. In some instances, agents or mixtures for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but evidence suggesting lack of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, consistently and strongly supported by a broad range of other relevant data, may be classified in this group."

The only agent in that group is: Caprolactam (see Group 4 to date ) (Source: IUPAC Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicology Classification of carcinogenicity  )


The likelihood of producing a significantly larger-than-average response to a specified exposure to a substance.



The production of a substance by either joining chemical elements, groups, and/or simpler compounds or breaking down a complex compound. (Source: GreenFacts )

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was established in 1993.

Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU’s decentralised agencies.

The EMCDDA exists to provide the EU and its Member States with a factual overview of European drug problems and a solid evidence base to support the drugs debate.

Today it offers policymakers the data they need for drawing up informed drug laws and strategies. It also helps professionals and practitioners working in the field pinpoint best practice and new areas of research. (Source:   )

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) is an advisory body, established in 1969, that advises the United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.

At present GESAMP is jointly sponsored by nine UN organizations with responsibilities relating to the marine environment, and they utilize GESAMP as a mechanism for coordination and collaboration among them. GESAMP functions are to conduct and support marine environmental assessments, to undertake in-depth studies, analyses, and reviews of specific topics, and to identify emerging issues regarding the state of the marine environment. GESAMP itself today consists of 16 experts, drawn from a wide range of relevant disciplines, who act in an independent and individual capacity. Studies and assessments are usually carried out by dedicated working groups, most of whose members are not sitting members of GESAMP but part of the broader GESAMP network.


Source: (Source:  )


Measures taken to treat a physical or mental disease.

First-line therapy is the first type of therapy given for a condition or disease.

Second-line therapy is the treatment that is given when initial treatment (first-line therapy) doesn't work, or stops working. (Source: based on St Jude Hospital Medical Terminology & Drug Database )

Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland consists of two bodies like small walnuts; they are connected by an isthmus beside the larynx (voice box). The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which regulate the metabolism of all cells in the body. Disorders of the thyroid gland are characterized by the inability to produce or release sufficient thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) or the overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). (Source: EMCOM Endocrine Disruptors Glossary  )



A pattern of change over time, over and above short-term fluctuations. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )


An abnormal mass of tissue resulting from uncontrolled and excessive cell division.

Tumours can be either benign (localised, without the invasion of other tissues) or malignant (showing progressive invasion of other tissues). (Source: GreenFacts)

Ultraviolet radiation

Electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength than visible light but of longer wavelenght than x-rays, i.e. ranging from approximately 400 nm to 100 nm.

The most common source of ultraviolet radiation is the sun, but it can also be produced artificially by UV lamps.

UV radiation is divided into three bands: UVA, UVB, and UVC. All three bands are classified as a probable human carcinogen.

UVA – Long-wavelength UVA covers the range 315–400 nm. Not significantly filtered by the atmosphere. Approximately 90% of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. UVA is again divided into UVA-I (340 nm - 400 nm) and UVA-II (315 nm - 340 nm).

UVB – Medium-wavelength UVB covers the range 280–315 nm. Approximately 10% of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface.

UVC – Short-wavelength UVC covers the range 100–280 nm. All solar UVC radiation is absorbed by the ozone layer. (Source: GreenFacts based on WHO  Artificial tanning sunbeds: risks and guidance )



Naturally occurring heavy metal that is denser than lead.

Uranium is radioactive and is the principal fuel of nuclear reactors. (Source: GreenFacts )

US National Cancer Institute

As a US federal government agency:

"The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of eight agencies that compose the Public Health Service (PHS) in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The NCI, established under the National Cancer Act of 1937, is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research and training."

"The National Cancer Institute coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients." (Source: NCI website  )

US National Institutes of Health

"The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives, NIH scientists investigate ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases. Composed of 27 Institutes and Centers, the NIH provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world." (Source: NIH website  )


A virus is a small organism which can infect other biological organisms.

Viruses can only reproduce by invading and taking over cells as they lack the cellular machinery for self reproduction.

They cause diseases in human beings, animals, plants and bacteria.

Examples of human diseases caused by viruses include the common cold, influenza, small pox, AIDS, and cold sores. (Source: GreenFacts)



Vitamins are a group of organic micronutrients that are required by the body for healthy growth, development and immune system functioning.

Certain vitamins are produced by the body but most vitamins are obtained from food or from manufactured dietary supplements. (Source: GreenFacts)


World Business Council for Sustainable Development

"The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a coalition of 170 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.

Our members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. We also benefit from a global network of 45 national and regional business councils and partner organizations located in 40 countries, involving some 1,000 business leaders globally.

The WBCSD's activities reflect our belief that the pursuit of sustainable development is good for business and business is good for sustainable development." (Source: WBCSD website )

World Health Organization

"The World Health Organization  (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.

193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization, approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board, which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health matters of a regional nature."

WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.

The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of those regions.

WHO World Regional Offices
  WHO African Region  (46 countries)
  WHO European Region  (53 countries)
  WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region  (21 countries)
  WHO Region of the Americas  (35 countries)
  WHO South-East Asia Region  (11 countries)
  WHO Western Pacific Region  (27 countries)

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