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1.  Nucleotide excision repair polymorphisms may modify ionizing radiation-related breast cancer risk in US radiologic technologists 
Exposure to ionizing radiation has been consistently associated with increased risk of female breast cancer. Although the majority of DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation is corrected by the base-excision repair pathway, certain types of multiple-base damage can only be repaired through the nucleotide excision repair pathway. In a nested case–control study of breast cancer in US radiologic technologists exposed to low levels of ionizing radiation (858 cases, 1,083 controls), we examined whether risk of breast cancer conferred by radiation was modified by nucleotide excision gene polymorphisms ERCC2 (XPD) rs13181, ERCC4 (XPF) rs1800067 and rs1800124, ERCC5 (XPG) rs1047769 and rs17655; and ERCC6 rs2228526. Of the 6 ERCC variants examined, only ERCC5 rs17655 showed a borderline main effect association with breast cancer risk (ORGC = 1.1, ORCC = 1.3; p-trend = 0.08), with some indication that individuals carrying the C allele variant were more susceptible to the effects of occupational radiation (EOR/GyGG = 1.0, 95% CI = <0, 6.0; EOR/GyGC/CC = 5.9, 95% CI = 0.9, 14.4; phet = 0.10). ERCC2 rs13181, although not associated with breast cancer risk overall, statistically significantly modified the effect of occupational radiation dose on risk of breast cancer (EOR/GyAA = 9.1, 95% CI = 2.1–21.3; EOR/GyAC/CC = 0.6, 95% CI = <0, 4.6; phet = 0.01). These results suggest that common variants in nucleotide excision repair genes may modify the association between occupational radiation exposure and breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3984912  PMID: 18767034
2.  Occupational Exposure to Pesticides and Risk of Adult Brain Tumors 
American journal of epidemiology  2008;167(8):976-985.
The authors examined incident glioma and meningioma risk associated with occupational exposure to insecticides and herbicides in a hospital-based, case-control study of brain cancer. Cases were 462 glioma and 195 meningioma patients diagnosed between 1994 and 1998 in three US hospitals. Controls were 765 patients admitted to the same hospitals for nonmalignant conditions. Occupational histories were collected during personal interviews. Exposure to pesticides was estimated by use of a questionnaire, combined with pesticide measurement data abstracted from published sources. Using logistic regression models, the authors found no association between insecticide and herbicide exposures and risk for glioma and meningioma. There was no association between glioma and exposure to insecticides or herbicides, in men or women. Women who reported ever using herbicides had a significantly increased risk for meningioma compared with women who never used herbicides (odds ratio = 2.4, 95% confidence interval: 1.4, 4.3), and there were significant trends of increasing risk with increasing years of herbicide exposure (p = 0.01) and increasing cumulative exposure (p = 0.01). There was no association between meningioma and herbicide or insecticide exposure among men. These findings highlight the need to go beyond job title to elucidate potential carcinogenic exposures within different occupations.
PMCID: PMC3967588  PMID: 18299277
3.  Blood Lead Levels, ALAD Gene Polymorphisms, and Mortality 
Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)  2011;22(2):273-278.
Previous analyses from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) have found that elevated blood lead levels may be associated with cardiovascular mortality, cancer mortality, and all-cause mortality. The 5-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) G177C genetic polymorphism (rs 1800435) affects lead toxicokinetics and may alter the adverse effects of lead exposure. We examined whether the ALAD G177C single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) affects the relationship between lead and mortality.
We analyzed a subset of 3349 genotyped NHANES III participants at least 40 years of age. Using Cox proportional hazards regression, we estimated the relative risk of all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality by ALAD genotype, and by blood lead levels (<5 μg/dL vs. ≥5 μg/dL). We also tested whether the ALAD genotype modified the relationship between blood lead level and mortality.
The adjusted overall relative risk for participants with the variant ALADCG/CC genotype was decreased for all-cause mortality (hazards ratio = 0.68; [95% confidence interval = 0.50–0.93]) compared with persons having the common GG genotype. There was some suggestion that higher lead levels were associated with cancer mortality (1.48 [0.92–2.38]). We observed no convincing interaction effect between ALAD genotype and blood lead level on mortality risk.
The ALADCG/CC genotype may be associated with decreased mortality from all causes and from cancer. This association does not seem to be affected by lead exposure.
PMCID: PMC3932657  PMID: 21293208
4.  A role for XRCC2 gene polymorphisms in breast cancer risk and survival 
Journal of medical genetics  2011;48(7):477-484.
The XRCC2 gene is a key mediator in the homologous recombination repair of DNA double strand breaks. We hypothesised that inherited variants in the XRCC2 gene might also affect susceptibility to, and survival from, breast cancer.
We genotyped 12 XRCC2 tagging SNPs in 1,131 breast cancer cases and 1,148 controls from the Sheffield Breast Cancer Study (SBCS), and examined their associations with breast cancer risk and survival by estimating odds ratios (ORs) and hazard ratios (HRs), and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Positive findings were further investigated in 860 cases and 869 controls from the Utah Breast Cancer Study (UBCS) and jointly analysed together with available published data for breast cancer risk. The survival findings were further confirmed in studies (8,074 cases) from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC).
The most significant association with breast cancer risk in the SBCS dataset was the XRCC2 rs3218408 SNP (recessive model p=2.3×10−4, MAF=0.23). This SNP yielded an ORrec (95% CI) of 1.64 (1.25–2.16) in a two-site analysis of SBCS and UBCS, and a meta-ORrec (95% CI) of 1.33 (1.12–1.57) when all published data were included. This SNP may mark a rare risk haplotype carried by 2 in 1000 of the control population. Furthermore, the XRCC2 coding R188H SNP (rs3218536, MAF=0.08) was significantly associated with poor survival, with an increased per-allele HR (95% CI) of 1.58 (1.01–2.49) in a multivariate analysis. This effect was still evident in a pooled meta-analysis of 8,781 breast cancer patients from the BCAC [HR (95% CI) of 1.19 (1.05–1.36), p=0.01].
Our findings suggest that XRCC2 SNPs may influence breast cancer risk and survival.
PMCID: PMC3932658  PMID: 21632523
Single nucleotide polymorphism; XRCC2; breast cancer risk; breast cancer survival
5.  Sunlight and Other Determinants of Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Black and White Participants in a Nationwide US Study 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(2):180-192.
Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), a marker for vitamin D status, is associated with bone health and possibly cancers and other diseases; yet, the determinants of 25(OH)D status, particularly ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, are poorly understood. Determinants of 25(OH)D were analyzed in a subcohort of 1,500 participants of the US Radiologic Technologists (USRT) Study that included whites (n = 842), blacks (n = 646), and people of other races/ethnicities (n = 12). Participants were recruited monthly (2008–2009) across age, sex, race, and ambient UVR level groups. Questionnaires addressing UVR and other exposures were generally completed within 9 days of blood collection. The relation between potential determinants and 25(OH)D levels was examined through regression analysis in a random two-thirds sample and validated in the remaining one third. In the regression model for the full study population, age, race, body mass index, some seasons, hours outdoors being physically active, and vitamin D supplement use were associated with 25(OH)D levels. In whites, generally, the same factors were explanatory. In blacks, only age and vitamin D supplement use predicted 25(OH)D concentrations. In the full population, determinants accounted for 25% of circulating 25(OH)D variability, with similar correlations for subgroups. Despite detailed data on UVR and other factors near the time of blood collection, the ability to explain 25(OH)D was modest.
PMCID: PMC3590034  PMID: 23292956
dietary supplements; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; race; seasons; sex; sunlight; ultraviolet rays; vitamin D
6.  Basal cell carcinoma and anthropometric factors in the U.S. Radiologic Technologists Cohort Study 
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in Caucasian populations. Although several risk factors are well-established, including ultraviolet radiation (UVR) sensitivity and exposure, few studies have examined anthropometric measures and BCC. Using Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, we prospectively investigated the relationship between height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) and BCC in 58,213 Caucasian participants (11,631 men and 46,582 women) from the United States Radiological Technologists cohort. This analysis was limited to participants who were cancer-free at baseline. The baseline questionnaire provided self-reported anthropometric factors and the subsequent questionnaire collected skin cancer susceptibility factors, lifetime UVR exposure derived from residential and personal UVR exposure (time outdoors), and health outcomes. During 509,465 person-years of follow-up, we identified 2,291 BCC cases (486 men; 1,805 women). BCC risk increased with increasing height, and decreased with increasing weight and BMI in both sexes, even after adjusting for UVR susceptibility factors and exposures. For BMI categories: <25 (reference); 25–<30; 30–<35; and ≥ 35 kg/m2, multivariate hazard ratios (HR) in women were: 1.00; 0.74 (95% CI=0.66–0.83); 0.67 (0.56–0.81); and 0.57 (0.44–0.74) respectively, p-trend ≤0.0001. Risks were similar in men. The inverse association between BMI and BCC was unaffected by controlling for sun-related exposures. Nevertheless, it may at least partly reflect residual UVR confounding. Further research with more detailed sun exposure data, including clothing patterns, would help clarify the relationship between BMI and BCC.
PMCID: PMC3873091  PMID: 21989791
Basal cell carcinoma; weight; height; body mass index
7.  Occupational exposure to chlorinated solvents and risks of glioma and meningioma in adults 
Occupational and environmental medicine  2012;69(11):10.1136/oemed-2012-100742.
Chlorinated solvents are classified as probable or possible carcinogens. It is unknown whether exposure to these agents increases the risk of malignant or benign brain tumors. Our objective was to evaluate associations of brain tumor risk with occupational exposure to six chlorinated solvents [i.e., dichloromethane, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and perchloroethylene].
489 glioma cases, 197 meningioma cases, and 799 controls were enrolled in a hospital-based case-control study conducted at three U.S. hospitals in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Information about occupational history was obtained through a detailed in-person interview that included job-specific modules of questions such that the interview was tailored to each individual’s particular work history. An industrial hygienist assessed potential solvent exposure based on this information and an exhaustive review of the relevant industrial hygiene literature. Unconditional logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each solvent for ever/never, duration, cumulative, average weekly, and highest exposure.
Overall, we found no consistent evidence of an increased risk of glioma or meningioma related to occupational exposure to the six chlorinated solvents evaluated. There was some suggestion of an association between carbon tetrachloride and glioma in analyses restricted to exposed subjects, with average weekly exposure above the median associated with increased risk compared to below-median exposure (OR=7.1, 95%CI: 1.1, 45.2).
We found no consistent evidence for increased brain tumor risk related to chlorinated solvents.
PMCID: PMC3850418  PMID: 22864249
epidemiology; cancer; solvents
8.  Comparison of occupational exposure assessment methods in a case-control study of lead, genetic susceptibility and risk of adult brain tumors 
Occupational and environmental medicine  2010;68(1):10.1136/oem.2009.048132.
There is great interest in evaluating gene-environment interactions with chemical exposures, but exposure assessment poses a unique challenge in case-control studies. Expert assessment of detailed work history data is usually considered the best approach, but it is a laborious and time-consuming process. We set out to determine if a less intensive method of exposure assessment (a job exposure matrix [JEM]) would produce similar results to a previous analysis that found evidence of effect modification between expert assessed-lead exposure and risk of brain tumors by a single nucleotide polymorphism in the ALAD gene (rs1800435).
We used data from a study of 355 patients with glioma, 151 patients with meningioma and 505 controls. Logistic regression models were used to examine associations between brain tumor risk and lead exposure and effect modification by genotype. We evaluated Cohen’s kappa, sensitivity and specificity for the JEM compared to the expert-assessed exposure metrics.
Although effect estimates were imprecise and driven by a small number of cases, we found evidence of effect modification between lead exposure and ALAD genotype when using expert- but not JEM-derived lead exposure estimates. Kappa values indicated only modest agreement (< 0.5) for the exposure metrics, with the JEM indicating high specificity (~0.9) but poor sensitivity (~0.5). Disagreement between the two methods was generally due to having additional information in the detailed work history.
These results provide preliminary evidence suggesting that high quality exposure data are likely to improve the ability to detect genetic effect modification.
PMCID: PMC3828743  PMID: 20798009
9.  RadRAT: A Radiation Risk Assessment Tool for Lifetime Cancer Risk Projection 
Risk projection methods allow for timely assessment of the potential magnitude of radiation-related cancer risks following low-dose radiation exposures. To estimate such risks directly through observational studies would generally require infeasibly large studies and long-term follow-up to achieve reasonable statistical power. We developed an online radiation risk assessment tool (RadRAT) which can be used to estimate the lifetime risk of radiation-related cancer with uncertainty intervals following a user-specified exposure history ( The uncertainty intervals are a key component of the program because of the various assumptions that are involved in such calculations. The risk models used in RadRAT are broadly based on those developed by the BEIR VII committee for estimating lifetime risk following low-dose radiation exposure to the U.S. population for eleven site-specific cancers. We developed new risk models for seven additional cancer sites: oral, esophagus, gallbladder, pancreas, rectum, kidney and brain/central nervous system (CNS) cancers using data from the Japanese atomic bomb survivors. The lifetime risk estimates are slightly higher for RadRAT than for BEIR VII across all exposure ages mostly because the weighting of the excess relative risk and excess absolute risk models was conducted on an arithmetic rather than a logarithmic scale. The calculator can be used to estimate lifetime cancer risk from both uniform and non-uniform doses that are acute or chronic. It is most appropriate for low-LET radiation doses <1Gy, and for individuals with life-expectancy and cancer rates similar to the general population in the U.S.
PMCID: PMC3816370  PMID: 22810503
10.  Ionizing radiation and the risk of brain and central nervous system tumors: a systematic review 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(11):1316-1324.
Although exposure to moderate-to-high doses of ionizing radiation is the only established environmental risk factor for brain and CNS tumors, it is not clear whether this relationship differs across tumor subtypes, by sex or age at exposure, or at the low-to-moderate range of exposure. This systematic review summarizes the epidemiologic evidence on the association between ionizing radiation exposure and risk of brain/CNS tumors. Articles included in this review estimated radiation exposure doses to the brain and reported excess relative risk (ERR) estimates for brain/CNS tumors. Eight cohorts were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Average age at exposure ranged from 8 months to 26 years. Mean dose to the brain ranged from 0.07 to 10 Gy. Elevated risks for brain/CNS tumors were consistently observed in relation to ionizing radiation exposure, but the strength of this association varied across cohorts. Generally, ionizing radiation was more strongly associated with risk for meningioma compared with glioma. The positive association between ionizing radiation exposure and risk for glioma was stronger for younger vs older ages at exposure. We did not observe an effect modification on the risk for meningioma by sex, age at exposure, time since exposure, or attained age. The etiologic role of ionizing radiation in the development of brain/CNS tumors needs to be clarified further through additional studies that quantify the association between ionizing radiation and risk for brain/CNS tumors at low-to-moderate doses, examine risks across tumor subtypes, and account for potential effect modifiers.
PMCID: PMC3480263  PMID: 22952197
brain cancer; brain tumors; glioma; ionizing radiation; meningioma
11.  Genome-wide Association Study of Glioma and Meta-Analysis 
Human genetics  2012;131(12):1877-1888.
Gliomas account for approximately 80% of all primary malignant brain tumors, and despite improvements in clinical care over the last 20 years remain among the most lethal tumors, underscoring the need for gaining new insights that could translate into clinical advances. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified seven new susceptibility regions. We conducted a new independent GWAS of glioma using 1,856 cases and 4,955 controls (from 14 cohort studies, 3 casecontrol studies, and 1 population-based case only study) and found evidence of strong replication for three of the seven previously reported associations at 20q13.33 (RTEL), 5p15.33 (TERT), and 9p21.3 (CDKN2BAS), and consistent association signals for the remaining four at 7p11.2 (EGFR both loci), 8q24.21 (CCDC26) and 11q23.3 (PHLDB1). The direction and magnitude of the signal were consistent for samples from cohort and case-control studies, but the strength of the association was more pronounced for loci rs6010620 (20q,13.33; RTEL) and rs2736100 (5p15.33, TERT) in cohort studies despite the smaller number of cases in this group, likely due to relatively more higher grade tumors being captured in the cohort studies. We further examined the 85 most promising single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers identified in our study in three replication sets (5,015 cases and 11,601 controls), but no new markers reached genome-wide significance. Our findings suggest that larger studies focusing on novel approaches as well as specific tumor subtypes or subgroups will be required to identify additional common susceptibility loci for glioma risk.
PMCID: PMC3761216  PMID: 22886559
12.  Risk Factors Associated with Secondary Sarcomas in Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study 
Childhood cancer survivors have an increased risk of secondary sarcomas. To better identify those at risk, the relationship between therapeutic dose of chemotherapy and radiation and secondary sarcoma should be quantified.
Methods and Materials
We conducted a nested case-control study of secondary sarcomas (105 cases, 422 matched controls) in a cohort of 14,372 childhood cancer survivors. Radiation dose at the second malignant neoplasm (SMN) site and use of chemotherapy were estimated from detailed review of medical records. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by conditional logistic regression. Excess odds ratio (EOR) was modeled as a function of radiation dose, chemotherapy, and host factors.
Sarcomas occurred a median of 11.8 years (range: 5.3-31.3 years) from original diagnosis. Any exposure to radiation was associated with increased risk of subsequent sarcoma (OR = 4.1, 95% CI = 1.8-9.5). A dose-response relation was observed, with elevated risks at doses between 10 - 29.9 Gy (OR = 15.6, 95% CI = 4.5-53.9), 30 - 49.9 Gy (OR = 16.0, 95% CI 3.8-67.8) and >50 Gy (OR = 114.1, 95% CI 13.5-964.8). Anthracycline exposure was associated with sarcoma risk (OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.6-7.7) adjusting for radiation dose, other chemotherapy, and primary cancer. Adjusting for treatment, survivors with a first diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL; OR=10.7, 95% CI = 3.1-37.4) or primary sarcoma (OR=8.4, 95% CI = 3.2-22.3) were more likely to develop a sarcoma.
Of the risk factors evaluated, radiation exposure was the most important for secondary sarcoma development in childhood cancer survivors; anthracycline chemotherapy exposure was also associated with increased risk.
PMCID: PMC3423483  PMID: 22795729
Childhood cancer survivors; secondary sarcomas; radiation late effects
13.  Insight in glioma susceptibility through an analysis of 6p22.3, 12p13.33-12.1, 17q22-23.2 and 18q23 SNP genotypes in familial and non-familial glioma 
Human genetics  2012;131(9):1507-1517.
The risk of glioma has consistently been shown to be increased two-fold in relatives of patients with primary brain tumors (PBT). A recent genome-wide linkage study of glioma families provided evidence for a disease locus on 17q12-21.32, with the possibility of four additional risk loci at 6p22.3, 12p13.33-12.1, 17q22-23.2, and 18q23.
To identify the underlying genetic variants responsible for the linkage signals, we compared the genotype frequencies of 5,122 SNPs mapping to these five regions in 88 glioma cases with and 1,100 cases without a family history of PBT (discovery study). An additional series of 84 familial and 903 non-familial cases were used to replicate associations.
In the discovery study, 12 SNPs showed significant associations with family history of PBT (P < 0.001). In the replication study, two of the 12 SNPs were confirmed: 12p13.33-12.1 PRMT8 rs17780102 (P = 0.031) and 17q12-21.32 SPOP rs650461 (P = 0.025). In the combined analysis of discovery and replication studies, the strongest associations were attained at four SNPs: 12p13.33-12.1 PRMT8 rs17780102 (P = 0.0001), SOX5 rs7305773 (P = 0.0001) and STKY1 rs2418087 (P = 0.0003), and 17q12-21.32 SPOP rs6504618 (P = 0.0006). Further, a significant gene-dosage effect was found for increased risk of family history of PBT with these four SNPs in the combined data set (Ptrend < 1.0 ×10−8).
The results support the linkage finding that some loci in the 12p13.33-12.1 and 17q12-q21.32 may contribute to gliomagenesis and suggest potential target genes underscoring linkage signals.
PMCID: PMC3604903  PMID: 22688887
Association; Polymorphisms; Glioma; Family history of primary brain tumor; Linkage analysis
14.  Cancer Risks Associated with External Radiation From Diagnostic Imaging Procedures 
CA: a cancer journal for clinicians  2012;10.3322/caac.21132.
The 600% increase in medical radiation exposure to the US population since 1980 has provided immense benefit, but potential future cancer risks to patients. Most of the increase is from diagnostic radiologic procedures. The objectives of this review are to summarize epidemiologic data on cancer risks associated with diagnostic procedures, describe how exposures from recent diagnostic procedures relate to radiation levels linked with cancer occurrence, and propose a framework of strategies to reduce radiation from diagnostic imaging in patients. We briefly review radiation dose definitions, mechanisms of radiation carcinogenesis, key epidemiologic studies of medical and other radiation sources and cancer risks, and dose trends from diagnostic procedures. We describe cancer risks from experimental studies, future projected risks from current imaging procedures, and the potential for higher risks in genetically susceptible populations. To reduce future projected cancers from diagnostic procedures, we advocate widespread use of evidence-based appropriateness criteria for decisions about imaging procedures, oversight of equipment to deliver reliably the minimum radiation required to attain clinical objectives, development of electronic lifetime records of imaging procedures for patients and their physicians, and commitment by medical training programs, professional societies, and radiation protection organizations to educate all stakeholders in reducing radiation from diagnostic procedures.
PMCID: PMC3548988  PMID: 22307864
15.  Common Genetic Variants in Sex Hormone Pathway Genes and Papillary Thyroid Cancer Risk 
Thyroid  2012;22(2):151-156.
Hormonal differences are hypothesized to contribute to the approximately ≥2-fold higher thyroid cancer incidence rates among women compared with men worldwide. Although thyroid cancer cells express estrogen receptors and estrogen has a proliferative effect on papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) cells in vitro, epidemiologic studies have not found clear associations between thyroid cancer and female hormonal factors. We hypothesized that polymorphic variation in hormone pathway genes is associated with the risk of developing papillary thyroid cancer.
We evaluated the association between PTC and 1151 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 58 candidate gene regions involved in sex hormone synthesis and metabolism, gonadotropins, and prolactin in a case-control study of 344 PTC cases and 452 controls, frequency matched on age and sex. Odds ratios and p-values for the linear trend for the association between each SNP genotype and PTC risk were estimated using unconditional logistic regression. SNPs in the same gene region or pathway were aggregated using adaptive rank-truncated product methods to obtain gene region-specific or pathway-specific p-values. To account for multiple comparisons, we applied the false discovery rate method.
Seven SNPs had p-values for linear trend <0.01, including four in the CYP19A1 gene, but none of the SNPs remained significant after correction for multiple comparisons. Results were similar when restricting the dataset to women. p-values for examined gene regions and for all genes combined were ≥0.09.
Based on these results, SNPs in selected hormone pathway genes do not appear to be strongly related to PTC risk. This observation is in accord with the lack of consistent associations between hormonal factors and PTC risk in epidemiologic studies.
PMCID: PMC3271376  PMID: 22224819
16.  Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Glioma in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study Cohort 
Several case–control studies have suggested that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce risk for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Prospective investigations have not observed such an association, but these studies lacked adequate brain cancer case numbers and did not stratify by histologic subtype. We prospectively investigated the association between NSAID use and risk of all glioma as well as the risk of glioblastoma subtype in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health Study. The frequency of aspirin and nonaspirin NSAID use 1 year prior to baseline was ascertained using a self-administered questionnaire. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Cox regression models with age as the underlying time metric, adjusted for sex, race, and history of heart disease. The analysis included 302,767 individuals, with 341 incident glioma cases (264 glioblastoma). No association was observed between regular use (>2 times/wk) of aspirin and risk of glioma (HR=1.16; 95% CI, 0.87–1.56) or glioblastoma (HR=1.17; 95% CI, 0.83–1.64) as compared with no use. Null associations were also observed for nonaspirin NSAID use (HR for glioma = 0.90; 95% CI, 0.65–1.25 and HR for glioblastoma=0.83; 95% CI, 0.56–1.20) as compared with no use. Our findings from this large prospective study do not support an inverse association between NSAIDs and risk of all glioma or glioblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3388115  PMID: 21885814
17.  Joint Associations Between Genetic Variants and Reproductive Factors in Glioma Risk Among Women 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;174(8):901-908.
In a pooled analysis of 4 US epidemiologic studies (1993–2001), the authors evaluated the role of 5 female reproductive factors in 357 women with glioma and 822 controls. The authors further evaluated the independent association between 5 implicated gene variants and glioma risk among the study population, as well as the joint associations of female reproductive factors (ages at menarche and menopause, menopausal status, use of oral contraceptives, and menopausal hormone therapy) and these gene variants on glioma risk. Risk estimates were calculated as odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals that were adjusted for age, race, and study. Three of the gene variants (rs4295627, a variant of CCDC26; rs4977756, a variant of CDKN2A and CDKN2B; and rs6010620, a variant of RTEL1) were statistically significantly associated with glioma risk in the present population. Compared with women who had an early age at menarche (<12 years of age), those who reported menarche at 12–13 years of age or at 14 years of age or older had a 1.7-fold higher risk and a 1.9-fold higher risk of glioma, respectively (P for trend = 0.009). Postmenopausal women and women who reported ever having used oral contraceptives had a decreased risk of glioma. The authors did not observe joint associations between these reproductive characteristics and the implicated glioma gene variants. These results require replication, but if confirmed, they would suggest that the gene variants that have previously been implicated in the development of glioma are unlikely to act through the same hormonal mechanisms in women.
PMCID: PMC3218628  PMID: 21920947
genes; glioma; menstrual cycle; polymorphism, single nucleotide; reproduction; women
18.  Sarcoma risk after radiation exposure 
Sarcomas were one of the first solid cancers to be linked to ionizing radiation exposure. We reviewed the current evidence on this relationship, focusing particularly on the studies that had individual estimates of radiation doses. There is clear evidence of an increased risk of both bone and soft tissue sarcomas after high-dose fractionated radiation exposure (10 + Gy) in childhood, and the risk increases approximately linearly in dose, at least up to 40 Gy. There are few studies available of sarcoma after radiotherapy in adulthood for cancer, but data from cancer registries and studies of treatment for benign conditions confirm that the risk of sarcoma is also increased in this age-group after fractionated high-dose exposure. New findings from the long-term follow-up of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors suggest, for the first time, that sarcomas can be induced by acute lower-doses of radiation (<5 Gy) at any age, and the magnitude of the risk is similar to that observed for other solid cancers. While there is evidence that individuals with certain rare familial genetic syndromes predisposing to sarcoma, particularly Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome, are particularly sensitive to the effects of high dose radiation, it is unclear whether this is also true in very low-dose settings (<0.1 Gy). The effects of common low-penetrance alleles on radiosensitivity in the general population have not been well-characterized. Some evidence suggests that it may be possible to identify radiation-induced sarcomas by a distinct molecular signature, but this work needs to be replicated in several dose settings, and the potential role of chemotherapy and tumor heterogeneity needs to be examined in more detail. In summary, radiation exposure remains one of the few established risk factors for both bone and soft tissue sarcomas. Similar to many other cancers children have the highest risks of developing a radiation-related sarcoma. Efforts to limit unnecessary high-dose radiation exposure, particularly in children, therefore remain important given the high fatality rates associated with this disease.
PMCID: PMC3507855  PMID: 23036235
19.  Hunting for the Causes of Meningioma—Obesity Is a Suspect 
In this issue of the journal, Michaud and colleagues report a 48% increased risk of meningioma in obese individuals compared with individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI). This large prospective cohort study adds weight to the suggested link between BMI and meningioma, thus contributing to the growing number of cancer sites likely associated with body fatness. Although the exact mechanisms underlying the BMI-meningioma link are unclear, possible mediators include hormonal factors, immunological response, and levels of insulin or insulin-like growth factors, each of which has been implicated by various levels of evidence in meningioma risk. Understanding the relationships between body fatness, height, and hormonal and immunological factors could provide important clues to the etiology of meningioma and may have implications for the early detection and prevention of these tumors.
PMCID: PMC3170083  PMID: 21893497
20.  Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study 
Lancet  2012;380(9840):499-505.
Although CT scans are very useful clinically, potential cancer risks exist from associated ionising radiation, in particular for children who are more radiosensitive than adults. We aimed to assess the excess risk of leukaemia and brain tumours after CT scans in a cohort of children and young adults.
In our retrospective cohort study, we included patients without previous cancer diagnoses who were first examined with CT in National Health Service (NHS) centres in England, Wales, or Scotland (Great Britain) between 1985 and 2002, when they were younger than 22 years of age. We obtained data for cancer incidence, mortality, and loss to follow-up from the NHS Central Registry from Jan 1, 1985, to Dec 31, 2008. We estimated absorbed brain and red bone marrow doses per CT scan in mGy and assessed excess incidence of leukaemia and brain tumours cancer with Poisson relative risk models. To avoid inclusion of CT scans related to cancer diagnosis, follow-up for leukaemia began 2 years after the first CT and for brain tumours 5 years after the first CT.
During follow-up, 74 of 178 604 patients were diagnosed with leukaemia and 135 of 176 587 patients were diagnosed with brain tumours. We noted a positive association between radiation dose from CT scans and leukaemia (excess relative risk [ERR] per mGy 0·036, 95% CI 0·005–0·120; p=0·0097) and brain tumours (0·023, 0·010–0·049; p<0·0001). Compared with patients who received a dose of less than 5 mGy, the relative risk of leukaemia for patients who received a cumulative dose of at least 30 mGy (mean dose 51·13 mGy) was 3·18 (95% CI 1·46–6·94) and the relative risk of brain cancer for patients who received a cumulative dose of 50–74 mGy (mean dose 60·42 mGy) was 2·82 (1·33–6·03).
Use of CT scans in children to deliver cumulative doses of about 50 mGy might almost triple the risk of leukaemia and doses of about 60 mGy might triple the risk of brain cancer. Because these cancers are relatively rare, the cumulative absolute risks are small: in the 10 years after the first scan for patients younger than 10 years, one excess case of leukaemia and one excess case of brain tumour per 10 000 head CT scans is estimated to occur. Nevertheless, although clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible and alternative procedures, which do not involve ionising radiation, should be considered if appropriate.
US National Cancer Institute and UK Department of Health.
PMCID: PMC3418594  PMID: 22681860
21.  Risk of Meningioma and Common Variation in Genes related to Innate Immunity 
The etiology of meningioma, the second-most common type of adult brain tumor in the United States, is largely unknown. Prior studies indicate that history of immune-related conditions may affect the risk of meningioma. To identify genetic markers for meningioma in genes involved with innate immunity, we conducted an exploratory association study of 101 meningioma cases and 330 frequency-matched controls of European ancestry using subjects from a hospital-based study conducted by the National Cancer Institute. We genotyped 1407 “tag” single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 148 genetic regions chosen on the basis of an r2> 0.8 and minor allele frequency > 5% in Caucasians in HapMap1. Risk of meningioma was estimated by odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Seventeen SNPs distributed across twelve genetic regions (NFKB1 (3), FCER1G (3), CCR6 (2), VCAM1, CD14, TNFRSF18, RAC2, XDH, C1D, TLR1/TLR10/TLR6, NOS1, DEFA5) were associated with risk of meningioma with p<0.01. Although individual SNP tests were not significant after controlling for multiple comparisons, gene region-based tests were statistically significant (p<0.05) for TNFRSF18, NFKB1, FCER1G, CD14, C1D, CCR6, and VCAM1. Our results indicate that common genetic polymorphisms in innate immunity genes may be associated with risk of meningioma. Given the small sample size, replication of these results in a larger study of meningioma is needed.
PMCID: PMC3169167  PMID: 20406964
Meningioma; polymorphism; genetic region; innate immunity; brain; tumor; neoplasm; case-control
22.  Sunlight, Hormone Replacement Status and Colorectal Cancer Risk in Post-Menopausal Women 
A reanalysis of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) randomized clinical trial found a significant interaction between supplementation with vitamin D/calcium and estrogen therapy and the risk of colorectal cancer risk, with reduced risks from supplementation limited to the placebo arms of the estrogen trials. To explore whether the vitamin D effects are modified by estrogen therapy, we report a largely cross-sectional, analysis of the association between sun exposure, which is an important vitamin D source, and colorectal cancer risk among postmenopausal women in the U.S. Radiologic Technologists study. Among 21,695 participants, there were a total of 108 cases. Sun exposure was based on time outdoors and on ambient ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure based on residence linked to erythemal exposures derived from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) database. Although there was no relationship between outdoor time or ambient UV measure and colorectal cancer risk in current hormone replacement therapy (HRT) users, in never/past HRT users, there was an inverse association with higher ambient UV exposure, RR for highest vs. lowest tertile=0.40; 95% CI 017, 0.93; p for trend = 0.04. Non-significant lower risks were also associated with higher levels of outdoor time (≥3.5 hours/week) in never/past HRT users. The interaction between both indicators of sun exposure and HRT and CRC risk was not significant. These data, although exploratory, are consistent with evidence from the WHI suggesting a decrease in colorectal cancer risk may be associated with vitamin D exposure among postmenopausal women who are not taking HRT, but not among current HRT users.
PMCID: PMC2829351  PMID: 19795420
23.  Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis Identifies Regions on 7p21 (AHR) and 15q24 (CYP1A2) As Determinants of Habitual Caffeine Consumption 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1002033.
We report the first genome-wide association study of habitual caffeine intake. We included 47,341 individuals of European descent based on five population-based studies within the United States. In a meta-analysis adjusted for age, sex, smoking, and eigenvectors of population variation, two loci achieved genome-wide significance: 7p21 (P = 2.4×10−19), near AHR, and 15q24 (P = 5.2×10−14), between CYP1A1 and CYP1A2. Both the AHR and CYP1A2 genes are biologically plausible candidates as CYP1A2 metabolizes caffeine and AHR regulates CYP1A2.
Author Summary
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Although demographic and social factors have been linked to habitual caffeine consumption, twin studies report a large heritable component. Through a comprehensive search of the human genome involving over 40,000 participants, we discovered two loci associated with habitual caffeine consumption: the first near AHR and the second between CYP1A1 and CYP1A2. Both the AHR and CYP1A2 genes are biologically plausible candidates, as CYP1A2 metabolizes caffeine and AHR regulates CYP1A2. Caffeine intake has been associated with manifold physiologic effects and both detrimental and beneficial health outcomes. Knowledge of the genetic determinants of caffeine intake may provide insight into underlying mechanisms and may provide ways to study the potential health effects of caffeine more comprehensively.
PMCID: PMC3071630  PMID: 21490707
24.  The impact of delayed blood centrifuging, choice of collection tube, and type of assay on 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2009;21(4):643-648.
Studies have examined the associations between cancers and circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], but little is known about the impact of different laboratory practices on 25(OH)D concentrations. We examined the potential impact of delayed blood centrifuging, choice of collection tube, and type of assay on 25(OH)D concentrations. Blood samples from 20 healthy volunteers underwent alternative laboratory procedures: four centrifuging times (2, 24, 72, and 96 h after blood draw); three types of collection tubes (red top serum tube, two different plasma anticoagulant tubes containing heparin or EDTA); and two types of assays (DiaSorin radioimmunoassay [RIA] and chemiluminescence immunoassay [CLIA/LIAISON®]). Log-transformed 25(OH)D concentrations were analyzed using the generalized estimating equations (GEE) linear regression models. We found no difference in 25(OH)D concentrations by centrifuging times or type of assay. There was some indication of a difference in 25(OH)D concentrations by tube type in CLIA/LIAISON®-assayed samples, with concentrations in heparinized plasma (geometric mean, 16.1 ng ml−1) higher than those in serum (geometric mean, 15.3 ng ml−1) (p = 0.01), but the difference was significant only after substantial centrifuging delays (96 h). Our study suggests no necessity for requiring immediate processing of blood samples after collection or for the choice of a tube type or assay.
PMCID: PMC2849301  PMID: 20020320
Vitamin D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Specimen handling; Time factors; Epidemiologic methods
25.  Early life exposure to diagnostic radiation and ultrasound scans and risk of childhood cancer: case-control study 
Objective To examine childhood cancer risks associated with exposure to diagnostic radiation and ultrasound scans in utero and in early infancy (age 0-100 days).
Design Case-control study.
Setting England and Wales.
Participants 2690 childhood cancer cases and 4858 age, sex, and region matched controls from the United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS), born 1976-96.
Main outcome measures Risk of all childhood cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma, and central nervous system tumours, measured by odds ratios.
Results Logistic regression models conditioned on matching factors, with adjustment for maternal age and child’s birth weight, showed no evidence of increased risk of childhood cancer with in utero exposure to ultrasound scans. Some indication existed of a slight increase in risk after in utero exposure to x rays for all cancers (odds ratio 1.l4, 95% confidence interval 0.90 to 1.45) and leukaemia (1.36, 0.91 to 2.02), but this was not statistically significant. Exposure to diagnostic x rays in early infancy (0-100 days) was associated with small, non-significant excess risks for all cancers and leukaemia, as well as increased risk of lymphoma (odds ratio 5.14, 1.27 to 20.78) on the basis of small numbers.
Conclusions Although the results for lymphoma need to be replicated, all of the findings indicate possible risks of cancer from radiation at doses lower than those associated with commonly used procedures such as computed tomography scans, suggesting the need for cautious use of diagnostic radiation imaging procedures to the abdomen/pelvis of the mother during pregnancy and in children at very young ages.
PMCID: PMC3037470  PMID: 21310791

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