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updated: July 17, 2024


A mutagen is a chemical or physical agent capable of inducing changes in DNA called mutations. Examples of mutagens include tobacco products, radioactive substances, x-rays, ultraviolet radiation and a wide variety of chemicals. Exposure to a mutagen can produce DNA mutations that cause or contribute to certain diseases.


Mutagen. I'm sure many of us can remember a time in our childhoods when our parents would warn us to put on sunscreen before we played outside in the summer, or not to stand too close to the microwave. I'm still not totally sure about the second example, but in both cases the intention was good — to avoid unnecessary exposure to mutagens, which could cause diseases like cancer down the road. Always listen to your mother.

Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Lead Extramural Training Program Director

Training, Diversity and Health Equity Office