Cancer Prevention / News
The Cancer Exposome: What is it? Where did it come from? Why is it important? How do we measure it?
Public Health Challenge
The exposome is theoretically a comprehensive measurement of all exposure events (exogenous and endogenous) from conception to death. It encompasses life course environmental exposures including lifestyle factors from the prenatal period onwards.
The exposome is useful for public health since it measures the:
- natural environment (air, climate, water);
- built environment (places we live, work, etc.);
- social environment (demographic, community and economic institutions, etc.); and
- policy environment (federal, state, local, etc. and laws, ordinances, etc.)
Sometimes biomarkers as internal dose measures compliment traditional exposure assessment methods and are the only method available to assess some types of exposure.
The exposome as a concept will require the following 1) high quality, well designed (cohort) studies, with appropriate controls, sample biorepositories, and state-of-the art exposure assessment and 2) development and validation of new exposure assessment tools. There are tremendous scientific opportunities.
Future Research Opportunities
- Investment in and exploration of new technologies and tools to measure internal and external exposomes
- Measurement of more compounds, with greater sensitivity, reliability, and accuracy -- in smaller amounts of urine and plasma/serum.
- Identify longer-lived biomarkers and convert assays with short half-lives into assays with longer half-lives. For example, measure all exogenous and endogenous compounds that covalently bind to hemoglobin (life-span = 120 days) or albumin (half life = 20 days).