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April 10, 1954

Coal Tar and Cutaneous Carcinogenesis in Industry

JAMA. 1954;154(15):1317. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02940490081033

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When in 1951 the U. S. Public Health Service published its extensive report "Survey of Compounds Which Have Been Tested for Carcinogenic Activity," 357 of 1,329 compounds were listed as having been the source of malignant or benign tumors in animals. Despite these findings, there was much doubt that these compounds caused tumors in human beings. Even sodium chloride was listed as an occasional source of sarcoma. The question was asked, "Where are the human cases?" Now in this small, beautifully printed and bound volume, the author presents numerous human cases, chiefly through superb photographs. It might be asked why the coal tar and petroleum derivatives were selected, when many other industrial chemicals are known to be carcinogenic. One answer is that a single petroleum plant starting with crude oil as its sole raw material provides as many as 700 different products. This multiplicity of derivatives and the fact that

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