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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Environment and Occupation

Environment covers a range of exposures, including but not limited to industrial and occupational exposures, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, air pollution, drinking water contaminants, pharmaceutical agents and exogenous hormones, and infectious agents (bacteria and viruses).

Air Pollutants

DCEG researchers investigate the cancer risk from exposure to air pollutants, including 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. Learn more about DCEG research on air pollutants.

Infectious Agents

DCEG investigators carry out multidisciplinary studies of populations in the United States and abroad, with the goal of clarifying the relationship of infectious agents - such as bacteria and 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. Learn more about DCEG research on infectious agents.

Occupational Exposures

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. Current studies include the study of exposure to pesticides, formaldehyde, diesel exhaust, acrylonitrile, benzene, trichloroethylene, and other solvents. Learn more about DCEG research on occupational exposures.

Pharmaceutical Agents and Exogenous Hormones

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. Learn more about DCEG research on pharmaceutical agents and exogenous hormones.


DCEG researchers carry out research 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, and investigate the etiology of radiosensitive tumors. Learn more about DCEG research on radiation.

Drinking Water Contaminants

DCEG researchers investigate a number of water contaminants that are thought to be associated with cancer risk. These include naturally-occurring substances (such as arsenic), fertilizer by-products (such as nitrate), and disinfection byproducts (compounds formed when chlorine to disinfect water comes into contact with organic material in water). Learn more about DCEG research on drinking water contaminants.