Compound in Gasoline Causes Cancer

Compound in Gasoline Causes CancerCompound in Gasoline Causes Cancer

In a series of studies on gasoline compounds and additives, an Iranian research team led by Farhad Ahmadi discovered a substance in gasoline that is accountable for 50% of cancer incidence in Iran.

“MTBE is antiknock additive and a fuel oxygenate that is used in gasoline and gasoil at high levels to replace lead as an octane enhancer. Recent studies have found that adduction of DNA with MTBE can lead to DNA destruction,” Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.

Ahmadi, who also teaches at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, said oxygenates help gasoline burn more completely, reducing tailpipe emissions, but is used excessively in third world countries as well as Iran and China.

Cancer incidence is high in the country and the rate is mounting by the day. A number of factors including water contamination, air pollution as well as infectivity in other commonly consumed products intensify the risks.

“Strong interaction between MTBE and DNA can lead to genetic mutations and cancer development in people,” he said.

The research team was successful in accessing a model of the interaction process. So far there was no comprehensive report on interactions between MTBE and other matters since the compound is volatile and common procedures do not obtain accurate results.

“That is why we took advantage of gas chromatography that comprises a group of analytical separation techniques used to analyze volatile substances in the gas phase. We simulated the interaction between MTBE and a substance called G-quadruplexes, and then studied the effects of their interaction on DNA,” the researcher said.

However, it cannot be concluded that the compound is the sole cause of cancer and more detailed studies need to be done to have an in-depth view of how exactly the compound affects human genes.