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
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
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-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.
There is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity of eugenol to
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)
- 4-Allylcatechol-2-methyl ether
- Caryophyllic acid
- Eugenic acid
- FEMA No. 2467
Last updated: 20 April 1998