PRESS RELEASE
N° 172
29 November 2006 


INDOOR EMISSIONS FROM HOUSEHOLD COAL COMBUSTION CARCINOGENIC: WOMEN IN LOW- OR MEDIUM-RESOURCE COUNTRIES MOST EXPOSED

APPENDIX: ABOUT THE IARC MONOGRAPHS

What are the IARC Monographs?

The IARC Monographs identify environmental factors that can increase the risk of human cancer. These include chemicals, complex mixtures, occupational exposures, physical and biological agents, and lifestyle factors. National health agencies use this information as scientific support for their actions to prevent exposure to potential carcinogens.
Interdisciplinary working groups of expert scientists review the published studies and evaluate the weight of the evidence that an agent can increase the risk of cancer. The principles, procedures, and scientific criteria that guide the evaluations are described in the Preamble to the IARC Monographs.
Since 1971, more than 900 agents have been evaluated, of which approximately 400 have been identified as carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic to humans.

Definitions

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.

Group 2

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.

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.

Group 3: The agent (mixture or exposure circumstance) is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to 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.

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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Contact Dr Nicolas Gaudin, Head of IARC Communications Group.

The Working Group's summary on this topic will soon appear on the IARC Monographs website. More details available in the December 1 issue of The Lancet Oncology.







World Health Organization
International Agency for Research on Cancer


Organisation mondiale de la Santé
Centre international de Recherche sur le Cancer


150, cours Albert-Thomas 69372 Lyon Cedex 08 (France)
Telephone: 33 472 738 485     Facsimile: 33 472 738 311     http://www.iarc.fr