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Pollutants in the womb can trigger adult cancers

Mouse study shows fetal exposures may pose long-term risks

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4:18pm, December 9, 2008

Mouse moms exposed late in pregnancy to heavy doses of a carcinogen gave birth to pups that inevitably developed lymphomas and lung cancers, a new study shows. The malignancies generally didn’t show up until the offspring reached the human equivalent of adulthood. The good news: Milk from carcinogen-treated mouse moms posed little added risk.

This demonstration “that very short early-life exposures can have major consequences is very important,” observes toxicologist Linda S. Birnbaum of the Environmental Protection Agency in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

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