Oxidative stress in environmental-induced carcinogenesis

Mutat Res. 2009 Mar 31;674(1-2):36-44. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2008.09.017. Epub 2008 Oct 11.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are the more abundant free radicals in nature and have been related with a number of tissue/organ injuries induced by xenobiotics, ischemia, activation of leucocytes, UV exposition, etc. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between ROS production and a biological system's ability to readily detoxify these reactive intermediates or easily repair the resulting damage. Thus, oxidative stress is accepted as a critical pathophysiological mechanism in different frequent human pathologies, including cancer. In fact ROS can cause protein, lipid, and DNA damage, and malignant tumors often show increased levels of DNA base oxidation and mutations. Different lifestyle- and environmental-related factors (including, e.g., tobacco smoking, diet, alcohol, ionizing radiations, biocides, pesticides, viral infections) and other health-related factors (e.g. obesity or the aging process) may be procarcinogenic. In all these cases oxidative stress acts as a critical pathophysiological mechanism. Nevertheless it is important to remark that, in agreement with present knowledge, oxidative/nitrosative/metabolic stress, inflammation, senescence, and cancer are linked concepts that must be discussed in a coordinated manner.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / toxicity*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / pharmacology


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Reactive Oxygen Species