DESCRIPTION: (Adapted from Investigator's Abstract) Little is known about
the causes of childhood cancers, but there has been increasing public
concern that environmental toxicants may contribute to the risk of
developing this heterogeneous group of diseases. California, with the
largest population-based cancer registry in the world and with a unique
wealth of environmental exposure databases, provides an unusual opportunity
to evaluate these rare malignancies in geographically and socio-culturally
diverse settings. The proposed study seeks to evaluate the first five years
(1988-1992) of California statewide population-based childhood cancer
incidence data in conjunction with geographic indicators of the
socio-cultural diversity of the state, and in conjunction with well
characterized and temporally relevant detailed statewide environmental
exposure information, to explore some of the more prominent current
hypotheses about environmental influences on the etiology of these diseases.
This work is designed to build on the California Department of Health
Services/Environmental Health Investigation Branch's long history of work in
the study of childhood cancer "clusters", in characterizing environmental
exposures of concern to human health, and in developing geographic
information system (GIS) analysis strategies to complement epidemiologic
Specific aims are targeted at an evaluation of:
- How childhood cancer rates vary with geographically defined
environmental emissions or exposures;
- How childhood cancer rates vary by demographic characteristics of
the population; and
- The independent effects of environmental or demographic risk
The proposed research is designed to identify risk associations worthy of
more in-depth investigation, while minimizing some of the limitations of
ecologic research. The investigators state that the availability of unique
existing databases to characterize both exposure and disease outcome in
California's large and heterogeneous population offer an opportunity to
integrate epidemiologic, environmental exposure, and GIS analytic strategies
to enhance our understanding of factors influencing a group of rare diseases
which constitute a major cause of death in children.
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