New insights into the mechanisms behind how cancer-causing agents in the environment activate genetic recombination in DNA could help to explain some of the effects of exposure as well as predicting which individuals may be more susceptible to developing the disease, a new UK study has suggested.
Everyone is exposed to low levels of carcinogens (substances or radiation that promote the formation of cancer) in the environment. One of the most widely found is benzopyrene — a general chemical pollutant found in smoke from stoves such as wood burners, exhaust fumes and barbequed meat and fish. One active ingredient of benzopyrene, BPDE, directly damages the DNA sequence forming what is known as adducts which in turn promote cancer-causing mutations.
While models exist showing how BPDE causes these mutations, some of the pathways are still not understood. It is currently believed that a BPDE adducts cause mutations during DNA synthesis because