International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations


VOL.: 36 (1985) (p. 75)

CAS No.: 97-53-0
Chem. Abstr. Name: Phenol, 2-methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)-

5. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation

5.1 Exposure data

Eugenol occurs widely as a component of essential oils and is a major constituent of clove oil. It has been used since at least the nineteenth century, primarily as a flavouring agent, in a variety of foods and pharmaceutical products, and as an analgesic in dental materials.

5.2 Experimental data

Eugenol was tested in mice of one strain and in rats of one strain by oral administration of a diet containing a high dose of eugenol. In mice, there was a significant increase in the incidence of liver tumours in females; in males, the increase was significant only for those receiving the lower dose. In rats, no increased incidence of tumours was observed. Other studies in mice by oral administration, skin application and intraperitoneal injection were inadequate for an evaluation of carcinogenicity, mainly due to the short duration of treatment.

Eugenol gave both positive and negative results in tests for DNA damage in bacteria. It was not mutagenic in several studies in bacteria. The compound was not active in a host-mediated assay in mice, nor was the urine of rats treated with eugenol mutagenic. Eugenol induced chromosomal aberrations and a small increase in sister chromatid exchanges in mammalian cells in vitro.

In one two-stage mouse-skin assay, 2',3'-epoxyeugenol, an in-vitro metabolite of eugenol, showed initiating activity.

2',3'-Epoxyeugenol was mutagenic to bacteria. Two urinary metabolites of eugenol, 3-piperidyl-1-(3'-methoxy-4'-hydroxyphenyl)-1-propanone and 3-pyrrolidinyl-1-(3'-methoxy-4'-hydroxyphenyl)-1-propanone were not mutagenic to bacteria or in the host-mediated assay.

5.3 Human data

No case report or epidemiological study of the carcinogenicity of eugenol to humans was available to the Working Group.

5.4 Evaluation

There is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity of eugenol to experimental animals.

In the absence of epidemiological data, no evaluation could be made of the carcinogenicity of eugenol to humans.

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.

Subsequent evaluation: Suppl. 7 (1987) (p. 63: Group 3)


Last updated: 20 April 1998

    See Also:
       Toxicological Abbreviations
       Eugenol (FAO Nutrition Meetings Report Series 44a)
       Eugenol (WHO Food Additives Series 14)
       Eugenol (WHO Food Additives Series 17)
       EUGENOL (JECFA Evaluation)