car·cin·o·gen | \ kär-ˈsi-nə-jən , ˈkär-sə-nə-ˌjen \

Definition of carcinogen 

: a substance or agent causing cancer

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Other words from carcinogen

carcinogenic \ˌkär-sə-nō-ˈje-nik \ adjective
carcinogenicity \-jə-ˈni-sə-tē \ noun

Examples of carcinogen in a Sentence

Cigarette smoke contains known carcinogens.

Recent Examples on the Web

Prop 65 requires businesses with at least 10 employees to disclose any carcinogens and toxic chemicals in their products. Ben Guarino And Eli Rosenberg,, "Coffee drinkers, don't fret over California cancer warning," 4 Apr. 2018 Coffee companies in California may soon be required to display a warning label alerting customers to a possible carcinogen in their brews. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "California Coffee Companies Must Display Cancer Warning Label, Judge Rules," 30 Mar. 2018 As part of that plan, Gottlieb has suggested some smokers could be directed toward alternative products that deliver nicotine without the carcinogens of burning tobacco. CBS News, "FDA sued over delay of e-cigarette review," 27 Mar. 2018 They’re deemed reasonably safe by the FDA, but the National Toxicology Program has stated that BHA is likely a human carcinogen, and BHT has been linked to both higher and lower cancer risks in various animal trials. Rebecca Straus, Good Housekeeping, "5 Terrible Ingredients In Pet Food," 17 June 2016 With every 5-degree temperature increase, the rate that carcinogens and toxins can be absorbed increases by as much as 400 percent. Samantha West, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Lots of Milwaukee firehouses lack laundry machines. Here's why that's a problem.," 3 July 2018 Genomic changes typically arise from rare errors during cell replication, or from exposure to carcinogens or radiation. Robert Martone, Scientific American, "Early Life Experience: It’s in Your DNA," 10 July 2018 Asbestos is a carcinogen that sometimes appears in natural talc but was stripped from commercial talc products in the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society. New York Times, "Johnson & Johnson Told to Pay $4.7 Billion in Baby Powder Lawsuit," 12 July 2018 Consumer Reports tested clothes treated with the insecticide permethrin and found that none of them was foolproof, plus the EPA classifies permethrin as a likely human carcinogen. Michael Roizen, M.d., And Mehmet Oz, Houston Chronicle, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment," 24 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carcinogen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of carcinogen

1853, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

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The first known use of carcinogen was in 1853

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English Language Learners Definition of carcinogen

medical : a substance that can cause cancer


car·cin·o·gen | \ kär-ˈsin-ə-jən , ˈkärs-ᵊn-ə-ˌjen \

Medical Definition of carcinogen 

: a substance or agent causing cancer

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