European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 565–574 | Cite as

Causality in cancer epidemiology

  • Pagona Lagiou
  • Hans-Olov Adami
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
Review

Abstract

In this review, issues of causality in epidemiologic research with emphasis on the aetiology of human cancer are considered. Principles of assessing causation in epidemiological studies of cancer are distinguished into those concerning an individual study, several studies and a particular person. Strengths and weaknesses of various approaches of documenting carcinogenicity in humans are examined and lists of major established causes of human cancer are presented. The review concludes with estimates of mortality from cancer around the world that can be attributed to specific factors under the light of the current scientific knowledge.

Keywords

Epidemiology Causation Aetiology Cancer 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Hill, AB 1965The environment and disease: Association or causation?Proc Roy Soc Med58295300PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rothman, KJ 1976CausesAm J Epidemiol104587592PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Susser, M 1991What is a cause and how do we know one? A grammar for pragmatic epidemiologyAm J Epidemiol133635648PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    MacMahon, B, Trichopoulos, D 1996Epidemiology: Principles and MethodsLittle, BrownBostonGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Miettinen, OS 1985Theoretical Epidemiology: Principles of Occurrence Research in MedicineWileyNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rothman, KJ 1978A show of confidenceN Engl J Med9913621363Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rothman, KJ, Greenland, S 1998Modern Epidemiology2nd EdLippincott-RavenPhiladelphia, PAGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cox, DR 2005Some challenges for medical statisticsEur J Epidemiol2059CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    American Council on Science and Health2005America’s War on “Carcinogens”: Reassessing the Use of Animal Tests to Predict Human Cancer RiskAmerican Council on Science and HealthNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Adami HO, Hunter D, Trichopoulos D, Eds. Textbook of Cancer Epidemiology. New York. Oxford University Press, 2002Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Taubes, G 1995Epidemiology faces its limitsScience269164169PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Trichopoulos, D 1996The future of epidemiologyBr Med J313436437Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    MacMahon B. Strengths and limitations of epidemiology. In: The National Research Council in 1979. Current issues and studies. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1979: 91–104Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Greenland, S 1980The effect of misclassification in the presence of covariatesAm J Epidemiol112564569PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wacholder, S, McLaughlin, JK, Silverman, DT, Mandel, JS 1992Selection of controls in case-control studies: I. PrinciplesAm J Epidemiol13510191028PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wacholder, S, Silverman, DT, McLaughlin, JK, Mandel, JS 1992Selection of controls in case-control studies: II. Types of controlsAm J Epidemiol13510291041PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wacholder, S, Silverman, DT, McLaughlin, JK, Mandel, JS 1992Selection of controls in case-control studies: III. Design optionsAm J Epidemiol13510421050PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Poole, C 1987Confidence intervals exclude nothingAm J Public Health77492493PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Greenland, S 1990Randomization, statistics and causal inferenceEpidemiology1421429PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Shlyakter A. Uncertainty analysis of multiple epidemiological studies using frequency distribution of relative risks. In: Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Analysis. Los Alamitos, California 1995: 40–47Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sacks, HS, Berrier, J, Reitman, D 1987Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsN Engl J Med316450455PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Greenland, S 1994Invited commentary: A critical look at some popular meta-analytic methodsAm J Epidemiol140290296PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Shapiro, S 1994Meta-analysis/Shmeta-analysisAm J Epidemiol140771778PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Feinstein, AR 1995Meta-analysis: statistical alchemy for the 21st centuryJ Clin Epidemiol487179PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    MacMahon, B, Pugh, TF, Ipsen, J 1960Epidemiologic MethodsLittle, BrownBostonGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    US Department of Health, Education and Welfare1964Smoking and Health. Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health ServiceUS Government Printing OfficeWashington, DCPublication 1103Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Supplement 7, Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity: An Updating of IARC Monographs, Volumes 1 to 42, Lyon 1987Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Evans, A 1993Causation and Disease: A Chronological JourneyPlenum PublishingNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cole, P 1997Causality in epidemiology, health policy and lawEnvironmental Law Reporter271027910285Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rothman KJ, Ed. Causal Inference. Chestnut Hill, MA: Epidemiology Resources Inc 1988Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Burnand, B, Kernan, WN, Feinstein, AR 1990Indexes and boundaries for “quantitative significance” in statistical decisionsJ Clin Epidemiol4312731284PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ames, BN, Gold, LS 1990Too many rodent carcinogens: mitogenesis increases mutagenesisScience49970971Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Gold, LS, Slone, TH, Ames, BN 1998What do animal cancer tests tell us about human cancer risk?: Overview of analyses of the carcinogenic potency databaseDrug Metab Rev0359404Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Trichopoulos, D, Li, FP, Hunter, DJ 1996What causes cancer?Scientific American2758087Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Lagiou, P, Trichopoulou, A, Trichopoulos, D 2002Nutritional epidemiology of cancer: Accomplishments and prospectsP Nutr Soc61217222Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Clayton, D, McKeigue, PM 2001Epidemiological methods for studying genes and environmental factors in complex diseasesLancet5813561360Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Trichopoulos, D, Lipworth, L 1995Editorial: Is cancer causation simpler than we thought, but more intractable?Epidemiology6347349PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Baik, I, Devito, WJ, Ballen, K,  et al. 2005Association of fetal hormone levels with stem cell potential: Evidence for early life roots of human cancerCancer Res5358363Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Doll, R, Peto, R 1981The causes of cancer: quantitative estimates of avoidable risks of cancer in the United States todayJ Natl Cancer Inst611911308Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Adami, H, Day, NE, Trichopoulos, D, Willett, WC 2001Primary and secondary prevention in the reduction of cancer morbidity and mortalityEur J Cancer37118127Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pagona Lagiou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hans-Olov Adami
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulos
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of MedicineUniversity of AthensGoudiGreece
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medical Epidemiology & BiostatisticsKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations