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Carcinogens and Cancer

Critical environmental exposures contribute to chronic disease across the life span, especially in economically developing regions of the world. Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems. An important part of our work in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering focuses on the translation of mechanistic research to public health based prevention strategies.

Research Highlight

Detoxification of Air Pollutants in Humans with a Broccoli Supplement

Air pollution has recently been declared a Group 1 human carcinogen by IARC. It is well documented that exposures are very high in Asian megacities, including those in China. Our studies in the Yangtze River Basin region (Qidong) have revealed high internal dose levels of a spectrum of airborne toxicants, presumably reflecting the surge in economic development without concomitant attention to regional environmental protection. Reductions in exposures to airborne toxicants require substantive economic and political investments, driven by national and global mandates, which is a major challenge for public health.

To address this problem comprehensively, in addition to the engineering solutions to reduce regional pollution emissions, we need to translate our basic science into strategies to protect individuals from these exposures. This study supports the development of food-based strategies as part of this overall prevention effort. John Groopman

Ongoing translational clinical trials involving residents in one of China's regions having greater air pollution impact have revealed that daily consumption of a half cup of broccoli sprout beverage produced rapid, significant and sustained higher levels of detoxication products  of benzene, a known human carcinogen, and acrolein, a lung irritant.

Associated Faculty