Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 983–990 | Cite as

Challenges and opportunities in research on early-life events/exposures and cancer development later in life

  • Somdat MahabirEmail author
  • Kjersti Aagaard
  • Lucy M. Anderson
  • Zdenko Herceg
  • Robert A. Hiatt
  • Robert N. Hoover
  • Martha S. Linet
  • Daniel Medina
  • Nancy Potischman
  • Steinar Tretli
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
  • Rebecca Troisi
Brief report


It is becoming increasingly evident that early-life events and exposures have important consequences for cancer development later in life. However, epidemiological studies of early-life factors and cancer development later in life have had significant methodological challenges such as the long latency period, the distinctiveness of each cancer, and large number of subjects that must be studied, all likely to increase costs. These traditional hurdles might be mitigated by leveraging several existing large-scale prospective studies in the United States (US) and globally, as well as birth databases and birth cohorts, in order to launch both association and mechanistic studies of early-life exposures and cancer development later in life. Dedicated research funding will be needed to advance this paradigm shift in cancer research, and it seems justified by its potential to produce transformative understanding of how cancer develops over the life-course. This in turn has the potential to transform cancer prevention strategies through interventions in early-life rather than later in life, as is the current practice, where it is perhaps less effective.


Birth Cohort Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma Central Nervous System Lymphoma Invasive Cervical Cancer Case Southern Community Cohort Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA)  2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Somdat Mahabir
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kjersti Aagaard
    • 2
  • Lucy M. Anderson
    • 3
  • Zdenko Herceg
    • 4
  • Robert A. Hiatt
    • 5
  • Robert N. Hoover
    • 6
  • Martha S. Linet
    • 7
  • Daniel Medina
    • 8
  • Nancy Potischman
    • 9
  • Steinar Tretli
    • 10
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
    • 11
  • Rebecca Troisi
    • 6
  1. 1.Modifiable Risk Factors Branch, Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS)National Cancer Institute (NCI)BethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal MedicineBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Comparative Carcinogenesis, NCIBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Epigenetics GroupInternational Agency for Cancer ResearchSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUCSF Comprehensive Cancer CenterSan FranciscoUSA
  6. 6.Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG)NCIBethesdaUSA
  7. 7.Radiation Epidemiology Branch, DCEGNCIBethesdaUSA
  8. 8.Department of Molecular and Cellular BiologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  9. 9.Applied Research Program, DCCPSNCIBethesdaUSA
  10. 10.Department of Etiological Cancer ResearchThe Cancer Registry of NorwayMontebelloNorway
  11. 11.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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