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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board: Brugge, Doug / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Garbisu, Carlos / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Lawrence, Roderick / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

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Volume 28, Issue 1

Issues

Environmental exposures: an underrecognized contribution to noncommunicable diseases

Rosana E. Norman
  • Corresponding author
  • Children’s Health and Environment Program, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ David O. Carpenter
  • Children’s Health and Environment Program, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany, Rensselaer, NY, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ James Scott
  • Children’s Health and Environment Program, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • Metro North Mental Health, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, Herston, Queensland, Australia
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/ Marie Noel Brune
  • Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  • An author is a staff member of the World Health Organization. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the decisions, policy, or views of the World Health Organization.
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/ Peter D. Sly
  • Children’s Health and Environment Program, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-04-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2012-0033

Abstract

Previous attempts to determine the degree to which exposure to environmental factors contribute to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have been very conservative and have significantly underestimated the actual contribution of the environment for at least two reasons. Firstly, most previous reports have excluded the contribution of lifestyle behavioral risk factors, but these usually involve significant exposure to environmental chemicals that increase risk of disease. Secondly, early life exposure to chemical contaminants is now clearly associated with an elevated risk of several diseases later in life, but these connections are often difficult to discern. This is especially true for asthma and neurodevelopmental conditions, but there is also a major contribution to the development of obesity and chronic diseases. Most cancers are caused by environmental exposures in genetically susceptible individuals. In addition, new information shows significant associations between cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and exposure to environmental chemicals present in air, food, and water. These relationships likely reflect the combination of epigenetic effects and gene induction. Environmental factors contribute significantly more to NCDs than previous reports have suggested. Prevention needs to shift focus from individual responsibility to societal responsibility and an understanding that effective prevention of NCDs ultimately relies on improved environmental management to reduce exposure to modifiable risks.

Keywords: burden of disease; children; environment; exposure; noncommunicable diseases

About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. Rosana E. Norman, Children’s Health and Environment Program, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia; and School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia, Phone: +61-7-3346-4619, Fax: +61-7-3365-5442


Received: 2012-12-09

Accepted: 2013-03-14

Published Online: 2013-04-04

Published in Print: 2013-04-01


Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health, Volume 28, Issue 1, Pages 59–65, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2012-0033.

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