Carcinogens and Mutagens

Carcinogens and Mutagens





Carcinogens and Mutagens

A mutagen is an element that induces the heritable modification in cells of any living organism. A carcinogen, on the other hand, is any constituent that prompts unfettered growth in cells and tissues of a multicellular living organism leading to the illness otherwise referred to as cancer. Mutagenesis refers to processes that result in genomic change carcinogenesis which is the progressions through which tumors develop may occur as a result of mutagenic events. Known carcinogens are also mutagens. (Beatrice Singer, 2012)

A mutagen affects change in the composition of the deoxyribonucleic acid and for this matter; it’s therefore clear proof that any carcinogen is more or less a mutagen. Common mutagens include Bromine sodium, (ultra-violent radiations) physical events, formaldehyde, dioxin, and nicotine. Mutagens are classified into two different categories, that is endogenous; coming from inside the body of an organism or, exogenous; Mutagen that comes from the external environment. Carcinogens can be mutagens but not all of them are, some will work by making mutations of DNA that lead to cancer but sometimes may increase the rate of cell multiplications. Examples of carcinogens include tobacco asbestos and UV radiations.

Different types of mutations

Chemical mutagens also referred to as the delaminating agents chemically alter the bases in the DNA, this leads to a change in the sequence, they include; Spontaneous mutation which happens when replication of the DNA or in the formation of the gametes goes wrong. Strand slippage mutation is yet another type of mutation where the parent strand and the daughter strand slip past each other causing the formation of a not so perfect bond. Mutations caused by our environment for example chemicals and radiations containing specific mutagens ‘carcinogens for that matter’ are referred to as Induced mutations

Cancer-causing carcinogens

As earlier explained carcinogens lead to the development of cancer, acting on different parts of the human body for example: Tobacco, alkylating agents, aromatic amines and schistosomiasis have aversive effects on the bladder, Androgens cause prostate cancer. Diesel exhaust, nickel dust nitrogen gas affect the lungs .UV light affects the skin, ethyl alcohol affect the liver and the breasts. (Campbell, 2011)

Means of exposure of chemicals and types of cancer they cause

Ultra-violent light is one major carcinogens responsible for the creation of cancerous cells, a sunburn is a clear indication stating that the ultra-violet rays have mutated the DNA in a skin cell, these mutations could take place hours before the first signs of sunburns show up, it’s the human bodies attempt to repair these mutated cells that lead to the heat and the pain of sunburns. When this happens the mutated cells overtime multiply and generally damage the skin cells .these rays from the sun may lead to detrimental destruction of cologne fibers leading to formation of wrinkles and flaccidity of the skin. the UV light penetration into the skin may also lead to strand brakes in the DNA. Cancer cells are formed in the skin when the UV light gains access to the nucleus of the skin cells which can cause them to divide rapidly and in an uncontrollable means. Then led to the formation of cancerous cells which continue to divide and disrupt the development of the surrounding healthy cells. Over time they can mutate and be able to move about in the body, thus transferable from the skin to other parts of the body. (William Cullen, 2016)

When tobacco as a carcinogen is introduced into the human body through the lungs and into the bloodstream, exposing each and every internal organ at risk of its toxins since it contains nicotine and many other compounds like carbon monoxide which are known to trigger cancer, in the blood stream carbon-monoxide muddles to hemoglobin thus interfering with the delivery of oxygen to tissues all over the body , nicotine and carbon monoxide also lead to the damaging of the inner wallsof the arteries causing the development of fat deposits called atherosclerotic Plax which reduce the rate of blood flow thereby starving the body of oxygen causing myocardial infraction. All the above mentioned effects may lead to heart diseases such as heart attacks and strokes which at times become very severe , the effects of tobacco which is mainly composed of nicotine tar and carbon monoxide is that it blocks all the air sacs of the lungs , draining the lymph nodes and the trachea, the skin is also affected by these carcinogen (Chapman, 2012)

There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of alcohol containing ethyl alcohol, the occurrence of malevolent tumors of the orifice pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, female breast and colorectum is usually related to the intake of alcohol. This has also been proven scientifically judging by the carceogenity of ethanol to animals, an overall evaluation of ethanol and acetaldehyde from metabolism of alcoholic beverages prove that they are carcinogenic to humans. Studies have it that the development of cancer may lag behind for about 2-15 years, even after cessation of drinking. There really is no clear-cut threshold for drinking without being cancer risk.


Beatrice Singer, D. G. (2012). Molecular Biology of Mutagens and Carcinogens.

Campbell, K. (2011). Infectious Causes of cancer.

Chapman, A. (2012). Democratizing Technology.

Frank R.Spellman, R. M. (2012). Environmental Health and Science Desk page 137.

William Cullen, K. R. (2016). Arsenic is Everywhere.