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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


COOK, Ralph  and  CALABRESE, Edward J.. The importance of hormesis to public health. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2007, vol.12, n.4, pp.955-963. ISSN 1678-4561.

Hormesis is a specific type of nonmonotonic dose response whose occurrence has been documented across a broad range of biological models and diverse types of exposure. The effects that occur at various points along this curve can be interpreted as beneficial or detrimental, depending on the biological or ecologic context in which they occur. Because hormesis appears to be a relatively common phenomenon that has not yet been incorporated into regulatory practice, the objective of this commentary is to explore some of its more obvious public health and risk assessment implications, with particular reference to issues raised recently within this journal by other authors. Hormesis appears to be more common than doseresponse curves that are currently used in the risk assessment process. Although a number of mechanisms have been identified that explain many hormetic doseresponse relationships, better understanding of this phenomenon will likely lead to different strategies not only for the prevention and treatment of disease but also for the promotion of improved public health as it relates to both specific and more holistic health outcomes. We believe that ignoring hormesis is poor policy because it ignores knowledge that could be used to improve public health.

Keywords : Biphasic; Dose response; Hormesis; Risk assessment; Environment.

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