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Atrophy is a wasting or decrease in size of a bodily organ, tissue, or part owing to disease, injury, or lack of use.
You may have heard this term used in reference to accident or paralysis victims: "his muscles atrophied because of non-use".
This term normally appears in Section 11 (toxicological information) of a Safety Data Sheet as a chronic health effect of exposure to the substance.
Exposure to certain chemicals can cause internal organs to degrade, weaken and decrease in size, particularly with chronic (long-term) exposure. For example, industrial solvents have been known to cause brain atrophy. While muscles can be rehabilitated through exercise, it is fairly tough to give your kidneys, liver or brain a strength-building workout!
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See also: chronic, myalgia, neurotoxin.
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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