MR. JONATHAN HUTCHINSON, the eminent consultant, has just put forward a statement of the utmost importance with respect to the probable existence of a direct connection between the consumption of arsenic‐contaminated food and the occurrence of cancer. He points out that certain modern “improvements” in processes of production have led to the contamination of various food‐products with small amounts of arsenic, and observes that “if, as seems proved, the continuous use of arsenic in small medicinal doses can predispose the skin to multiple cancer there seems no reason for doubting that it may do the same for the other tissues, and for the mucous membranes and the viscera,” while there must necessarily also be “the constitutional tendency, the appropriate age, and, in some cases, the local irritation.” Mr. HUTCHINSON refers to the recent successful tracing of the Manchester outbreak of “peripheral neuritis” to the use of arsenic‐contaminated beer as an example of what may be caused by the habitual ingestion of minute doses of arsenic. It is a remarkable fact that the increase in the occurrence of cancer may be looked upon as almost synchronising with the increasingly extensive adoption of those “improved” modern methods of manufacture, not only of beer but of other food‐products, which open the door to arsenic‐contamination; together with the great increase in the use of arsenic in medical prescriptions.
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