Environment covers a range of exposures, including but not limited to radiation, pollution, exogenous hormones, and infectious agents.
DCEG researchers investigate the cancer risk from air pollutants. In particular, they are exploring the lung cancer risk from exposure to smoke from open fires in homes, a major health risk in developing countries. These efforts include the study of variation in genes that activate and detoxify chemicals in the smoke, DNA repair and cell cycle control, and potential gene-environment interactions.
Viral and bacterial infections are known to cause a number of different malignancies in populations world-wide. DCEG carries out multidisciplinary studies of carefully selected populations in the United States and abroad, with the goal of clarifying the relationship of infectious agents, especially viruses, to human cancer and other conditions. Recent research has concentrated on human retroviruses (HIV-1), with additional studies on human papillomaviruses (HPV), hepatitis viruses, papovaviruses, and human herpesviruses (HHV), especially HHV-8.
DCEG researchers conduct studies in the United States and abroad to identify and evaluate environmental and workplace exposures that may be associated with cancer risk. Workers often have heavier and more prolonged exposures to hazardous chemicals that also occur in the general environment, but at lower levels. When excess risks are detected from workplace studies, they may provide important leads as to the etiology of cancer in other settings. Occupational studies have identified many chemicals that cause cancer in humans, and they have provided direction for initiatives aimed at reducing or eliminating these carcinogens in the workplace and elsewhere. Current studies include the study of exposure to formaldehyde, diesel exhaust, benzene, dry cleaning fluids, and other solvents.
DCEG researchers conduct studies on pharmaceutical agents such as over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, and exogenous hormones such as oral contraceptives and menopausal hormone therapies, to evaluate their uses and how they relate to cancer risk.
DCEG researchers carry out a broad-based research program designed to identify, understand, and quantify the risk of cancer in populations exposed to medical, occupational, or environmental radiation. They study ionizing radiation exposures (e.g., x-rays, CT scans, radon, and cosmic rays) and non-ionizing radiation exposures (e.g., radiofrequency and extremely low-frequency or power frequency). In addition, they perform radiation dosimetry research in support of epidemiological studies.
DCEG researchers investigate a number of water contaminants that are thought to be associated with cancer risk. These include naturally-occurring substances, like arsenic, fertilizer by-products like nitrate, as well as compounds formed when chlorine to disinfect water comes into contact with organic material in water.