A comprehensive review published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry argues that toxicologists can positively affect public health and reduce the economic costs of drug treatment by increasing their knowledge of hormesis and applying its principles to their discipline.
Hormesis is an adaptive reparative process that organisms and biological systems undergo when exposed to stress, toxicity, or disruptions in homeostasis. During toxicity testing, the health of organisms actually improved when they were exposed to low levels of some chemicals. Hormesis has not been taken seriously, mainly because of its historical link to homeopathy. Furthermore, hormesis research is demanding in terms of resources and time.
However, this review answers many questions about hormesis and contends that it is worthy of scientific research rather than disinterest, and that its use is applicable to many disciplines including toxicology, pharmacology, and risk assessment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's interest in cancer endpoints has also led to the reemergence of hormesis in the mainstream scientific community. The observation of hormesis in disease incidence and tumor formation (toxicological endpoints) and pain and seizure modulation (pharmacological endpoints) is also driving increased attention.
Data on hormesis from toxicological studies can lead to improved risk assessment protocols and practices that serve the scientific community and translate into public health and economic benefits.
The review is "Hormesis: Why It Is Important to Toxicology and Toxicologists" Edward J. Calabrese. The article appears in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Volume 27, Issue 7, 2008, published by Allen Press.
Full text of the article is available at http://www.allenpress.com/pdf/ENTC-27.7-final-article.pdf
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry is a publication of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. It is interdisciplinary in scope and integrates the fields of environmental toxicology; environmental, analytical, and molecular chemistry; ecology; physiology; biochemistry; microbiology; genetics; genomics; environmental engineering; chemical, environmental, and biological modeling; epidemiology; and earth sciences. Emphasis is given to papers that enhance capabilities for the prediction, measurement, and assessment of the fate and effects of chemicals in the environment.