Understanding the Links between Environmental Exposures and Cancer
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
"Recent studies have made it clear that many cancers, breast cancer in particular, occur primarily due to environmental exposure. However, research has only just begun into the types of exposure and diet that influence cancer and the time of life that an individual is at risk. Recovery Act funds are helping to find new insights into these complex problems by supporting unique projects sponsored by NIEHS that involve researchers, community partners, breast cancer advocates, and outreach experts."
— Les Reinlib, Ph.D., Breast Cancer and the Environment Centers (BCERC) Program Director
Cancer arises when cells are unable to repair DNA damage and experience abnormal cell growth and division. The process known as metastasis occurs when cancer cells travel to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and replace normal tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, this chronic disease is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. with half of all men and one-third of all women developing some form of cancer during their lifetimes.
The NIEHS is committed to understanding the connection between genetics and environmental exposures with regard to cancer.
Although cancer is responsible for 23% of all deaths in the U.S., millions of Americans have recovered from the disease. People may reduce their chances of getting cancer by employing prevention methods such as having regular screenings and living a healthy lifestyle.
How is the Recovery Act (ARRA) advancing cancer research?
NEIHS Recovery Act funds support projects addressing many research needs in regards to cancer pathways and exposure routes, and also specific cancers such as breast and skin cancer. The relationship between genes, the environment and disease plays a major role in many of the research studies.
Recovery Act Spotlight
Researchers investigating the possible link between environmental exposures and cancer
|Sandra Z. Haslam|
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
|Risk of breast cancer development due to early life environmental exposures |
Filling gaps in knowledge of in utero, early life and pubertal environmental exposures on mammary gland development and their influence on future breast cancer risk.
|Robert A. Hiatt |
University of California
San Francisco, California
|Environmental influences on breast cancer |
Studying environmental effects of breast cancer by focusing on mammary gland development during puberty when the breast may be especially vulnerable to environmental influences.
|Melissa Runge-Morris |
Wayne State University
|Toxicity of PCBs (endocrine disruptors) on breast cancer development |
Studying how human breast cells may shed light on core mechanisms by which some environmental PCBs accelerate progression of breast cancer development.
|Joel B. Mason|
|Relationship of a particular gene variant and colorectal cancer risk |
Studying interaction between gene variant C677T and folate and other B-vitamins in the body, and how the combination affects risk of colon cancer.
|Christopher R. Herzog |
Pennsylvania State University
Hershey Med. Ctr., Pennsylvania
|Mechanisms of tumor development and lung cancer |
Uncovering the mechanism by which tumors progress to malignancy to a better understand lung cancer development and to develop new therapeutic strategies.
|Tapas K. Hazra |
University of Texas
|Link between genetic mutation and lung cancer susceptibility |
Establishing the link between genetic mutation of DNA repair protein NEIL2 and development of lung cancer to provide insight into risks associated with exposure to mutagens.
|Michael D. Henry|
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
|Effects of pesticides on prostate cancer progression |
Understanding whether exposure to pesticides accelerates prostate cancer progression and establishing an experimental platform for exploring these links.
|Gail Prins, Ph.D. |
University of Illinois
|Epigenetic basis for prostate cancer following early estrogenic compound exposures |
Identifying underlying mechanisms of bisphenol A and determine if exposure during early stages of prostate development increases susceptibility to prostate cancer later in life.
|Laura A. Hansen |
|Mechanisms of UV-induced skin cancer |
Researching basic molecular mechanisms responsible for UV-induced skin cancer development and progression.
|Taihao Quan |
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|Protein (CYR61) as a potential mediator of skin cancer |
Study to test hypothesis that protein CYR61 regulates collagen stability protecting the skin from sun damage, the leading cause of premature skin aging and skin cancer.
|Chemical Exposures Related to Cancer|
|David J. Waxman |
|Impacts of endocrine disruptors on female reproductive track and uterine cancer risk |
Determining whether pre- and post-natal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals induces permanent epigenetic changes leading to female reproductive tract abnormalities and increased incidence of uterine cancer.
|Karin B. Michels|
Brigham and Women's Hospital
|Association of fetal exposure to endocrine disruptors and cancer risk|
Studying epigenetic changes after fetal exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and the complex association of genes and the environmental in the development of cancer.
|Lifang Hou |
|Pesticides exposure may lead to DNA alterations and cancer development |
Using a subset of Agricultural Health Study cohort to test hypothesis that exposure to pesticides causes methylation changes in blood cell DNA possibly leading to cancer.
|Lynn A. Sheldon|
Hanover, New Hampshire
|Impact of arsenic exposure on gene expression leading to cancer and other diseases |
Testing hypothesis that arsenic disrupts gene expression leading to multiple diseases including skin, lung, liver and prostate cancers, and metabolic disorders including hypertension and diabetes.
|Treatment and Prevention of Cancer|
|Debbie Mustacich |
Oregan State University
|Use of vitamin E for prevention of occupational induced lung damage |
Studying whether high doses of vitamin E supplementation can prevent DNA damage due to occupational exposure to toxin benzo(a)pyrene and other PAHs, reducing risk of lung cancer.
|Kristoffer Valerie |
Virginia Commonwealth University
|Understanding cell repair may lead to improved cancer therapies |
Understanding how the cell balances growth and assesses DNA damage.
|Alan J. Townsend |
Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
|Role of enzymes in fighting cancer causing substances |
Studying how glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) expression in normal cellular defends against the toxic effect of certain cancer causing substances such as PAHs (endocrine disruptors).
|Mohamed Trebek |
Albany Medical College
Albany, New York
|Role of calcium and reactive oxygen species in toxicant-induced immune failure |
Understanding how the pollutant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) affects the immune system, which may lead to new therapies for diseases such as cancer and immune system deficiency.
|Marie Lynn Miranda |
Durham, North Carolina
|Health disparities leading to high cancer risk |
Advancing partnerships to address community concerns over environmental contributors to cancer health disparities among high-risk African American families.
|Bhagavatula Moorthy |
Baylor College of Medicine
|Understanding the effects of environmental chemicals may lead to strategies to prevent cancer |
Determining the effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on mechanisms of CYP1A1 gene, which may lead to strategies for prevention/treatment of human cancers caused by environmental chemicals.