Cancer experts from around the world convened August 8-9 at an international meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada to focus attention on how environmental mixtures contribute to cancer development and progression. Sponsored by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP), Assessing the Carcinogenic Potential of Low Dose Exposures to Chemical Mixtures in the Environment brought researchers together to identify key issues that present challenges in assessing the carcinogenic potential of low doses of chemical mixtures in the environment.
"The purpose of the meeting was to get cancer biologists to talk about the specific hallmarks of cancer that they research and what environmental exposures contribute to those hallmarks," said SRP Administrator Danielle Carlin, Ph.D. "The researchers focused on chemicals that don’t get a lot of attention in cancer research because we don’t normally consider them carcinogens by themselves. However, mixtures of many of these chemicals may contribute to cancer."
Eleven groups of expert participants were formed before the meeting, each focusing on a specific mechanistic contributor to cancer. Each team also identified environmental exposures that are known to disrupt the assigned mechanism. The teams presented a summary of their review of the specific topics at the meeting and responded to comments and questions from other experts and the audience.
Carlin attended the meeting and gave a presentation describing how NIEHS-funded researchers are working to unravel the health effects of environmental mixtures. Rick Woychik, Ph.D., the Deputy Director in the NIEHS Office of the Director, and National Toxicology Program toxicologist Cynthia Rider, Ph.D., also gave presentations about experimental designs and approaches to studying mixtures, and the importance of studying environmental chemicals as contributors to cancer etiology.
"SRP is interested in the NIEHS Strategic Plan goal to understand how combined environmental exposures affect disease pathogenesis," said Carlin. "This meeting was funded by SRP to foster collaboration and better understand how the joint action of multiple chemical exposures contributes to cancer."