5018.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM

Health Disparities: Susceptibility to Environmental Exposures

The general population is exposed to a wide range of environmental agents such as tobacco smoke, dietary carcinogens, synthetic and natural compounds; however not everyone is equally susceptible to potentially negative environmental health effects. This is particularly true in the case of environmental carcinogens, where individual differences in susceptibility can significantly alter risk of developing cancer. The metabolic system that helps to protect against genotoxic damage differs between individuals and can determine cancer risk. Enzymes involved in detoxifying environmental agents are called phase I and phase II enzymes which include P450 cytochromes, glutathione-transferases, N-acetyltransferases, and others. These enzymes are polymorphic in a large part of the population due to genetic alterations and thus differ in their enzymatic activity in different individuals. It has been shown that polymorphic variants of these genes can determine bladder, kidney, lung and breast cancer risk (among others) in conjunction with environmental exposures. These data suggest that certain individuals will be at increased risk if they are exposed to specific environmental agents and that a large part of the population can be affected. Thus, gene-environment interactions play a crucial role in risk assessment from environmental exposures and must be considered when setting exposure standards. What are the implications for regulators concerned about public health and what are the ethical considerations relating to such issues as insurance coverage and employment discrimination? If medicine is going towards individualized treatment, shouldn’t public health incorporate individual susceptibility when dealing with health disparities?
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement.
Learning Objectives: Refer to the individual abstracts for learning objectives
Organizer(s):Jan C Semenza, PhD, MPH, MS
8:30 AMKidney cancer and breast cancer susceptibility
Jan C. Semenza, PhD, MPH, MS
8:30 AMEnvironmental Susceptibilities and Tobacco Smoke: Legal Implications
Patricia Roche, PhD
8:30 AMGenetic Susceptibility and Occupational Health
Karl T Kelsey, MD, MOH
8:30 AMTobacco Policy and the Importance of Susceptible Populations
John K Wiencke, PhD
Cosponsors:Epidemiology; Occupational Health and Safety; Socialist Caucus; Women's Caucus

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA