Question #84767

1 Answer
Nov 23, 2017

Generally, most aromatic hydrocarbon ring compounds are potentially carcinogenic. Aliphatic ones are not, unless containing other active groups - usually halogens.


Carcinogenesis is really a complex multi-step process. It is not just a "reaction" between certain chemicals and cells. Thus, the methods for determining whether a compound is carginogenic or not (and what you set as a "threshold" for statistical significance) are really a method of risk assessment and not a predictive rule.

As a class of compounds, the cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (benzene and derivatives, PAHs) have been shown to have a have a higher probability of inducing cancers in test animals than "straight chain" hydrocarbons (not all of which are 'safe' either).

Thus, pretty much any compound containing a benzene ring component would likely be a suspect carcinogen. There are always some exceptions (including very similar compounds for some reason, e.g. toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene) or simply lack of data for some compounds.

HUGE authoritative report:

Overview including benzene and some none-ring compounds: