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Carcinogenicity

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Summary (from Anthracene Risk Assessment Report, EU 2007, with minor modifications)

Anthracene has been tested for complete carcinogenicity, tumour initiating activity and photocarcinogenicity (in combination with UV light) by various routes of administration (oral, dermal, subcutaneous, intraperitoneal, pulmonary implantation) in a large number of studies using various strains of rats and mice. Many of these studies were carried out many years ago and often of poor quality using animal groups of very small size and single doses only. This holds particularly true for the skin carcinogenicity studies other than those looking for photocarcinogenicity.

All the mouse skin application studies gave negative results for complete carcinogenicity and for tumour-initiating activity.

Of 3 studies of photo-carcinogenicity, 2 (including the most recent and best conducted study) did not yield evidence of carcinogenicity, while the third, positive study was poorly reported and exhibited an unusually short tumour induction latency period.

Oral, subcutaneous and intrapulmonary administration to rats gave negative results, except for one subcutaneous injection study which showed induction of fibrosarcomas at the sight of injection. It is noted, in this context, that a metabolism study reported the formation of 9,10-dimethylanthracene, a weak carcinogen, after subcutaneous application of anthracene to rats or after in vitro metabolism in the presence of added S-adenosylmethionine. These observations would be compatible with a potential of anthracene to cause local sarcomas after sub-cutaneous administration.

However, the consistent absence of any genotoxic activity in a range of in vivo tests strongly suggests that the production of this metabolite does not have any significant biological consequences in terms of genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. Despite the fact that most of the carcinogenicity studies described above were not up to present day standards, overall, the available data do not provide evidence of carcinogenicity for anthracene alone or in combination with light. This conclusion is further supported by the consistent absence of evidence of genotoxic activity of anthracene in in vitro and in vivo test systems (see section 4.1.2.7 - Genetic Toxicity).

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