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Hormesis - Do Little Things Matter?

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The presenter will begin by describing the study methodologies used in the journal articles to be discussed. This will be followed by a discussion of the results of the studies under consideration and implications for current clinical and public health practice. 

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the theory of hormesis
  • Explain the controversy of hormesis as described in the Ames Test research
  • Describe how natural variability may influence research on hormesis

Articles to be discussed:

  1. Natural Variability and the Influence of Concurrent Control Values on the Detection and Interpretation of Low-Dose or Weak Endocrine Toxicities.
    Ashby J, Tinwell H, Odum J, and Lefevre P 
    Environmental Health Perspectives; 112(8): 847-853
  2. Evidence for hormesis in mutagenicity dose-response relationships.
    Calabrese EJ, Stanek EJ 3rd, and Nascarella MA
    Mutation Research 2011; 726(2): 91-97
  3. An illusion of hormesis in the Ames test: Statistical significance is not equivalent to biological significance.
    Zeiger E and Hoffmann GR
    Mutation Research 2012; 746(1): 89-93
  4. The Frequency of U-Shaped Dose Responses in the Toxicological Literature. 
    Calabrese EJ and Baldwin LA 
    Toxicological Sciences 2001; 62: 330-338

Presented By:

Jennifer Lowry, MD, FACMT
Medical Director, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Innovation
University of Washington
Children's Mercy Kansas City
Kansas City, MO

Jennifer Lowry, MD, FACMT, attended medical school at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in Vermillion and Rapid City, South Dakota. Subsequently, she completed a Pediatric Residency and Clinical Pharmacology/Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the Children's Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, MO. She is board certified in Pediatrics and Medical Toxicology. She spent 5 years at the University of Kansas Medical Center as the Medical Director to the University of Kansas Hospital Poison Control Center. Currently, she is the Chief for the Section of Clinical Toxicology at Children's Mercy Hospital and an Associate Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Missouri \u2013 Kansas City School of Medicine. She continues to serve as a toxicologist for the KUH-PCC.

She has served as the Director for the Mid-America Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit for EPA Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska) since its inception in 2002 and as a medical toxicology liaison to the Region 7 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. She is a current member of the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chair-Elect for the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Environmental Health.

She is a frequently invited lecturer on pediatric toxicology and environmental exposures in the region. In addition, she has been Co-Director to multiple courses on toxicology and pediatric environmental health.

Approximate Completion Time

60 minutes


This material was supported by the American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) and funded (in part) by the cooperative agreement FAIN: U61TS000238 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Acknowledgement: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports the PEHSU by providing partial funding to ATSDR under Inter-Agency Agreement number DW-75-92301301. Neither EPA nor ATSDR endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in PEHSU publications.

Training Material

  • Article 1: Evidence for hormesis in mutagenicity dose-response relationships
  • Article 2: An illusion of hormesis in the Ames test
  • Article 3: The Frequency of U-Shaped Dose Responses in the Toxicological Literature
  • Article 4: Natural Variability and the Influence of Concurrent Control Values...
  • Presentation
  • Presentation PDF
  • Post-Test