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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: New Method for Evaluating Cancer Risk of Chemicals Is Quick, Precise, Inexpensive

Of the roughly 1.7 million cancer cases seen in the U.S. each year, 90 to 95 percent are not caused by heritable genetic factors, making environmental exposures a major suspect in these cases. But of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commercial use, less than two percent have been thoroughly tested for their potential carcinogenicity — that is, whether exposure to a chemical increases a person’s long-term cancer risk — in part due to the extremely costly and time-consuming nature of the current chemical-screening process.

Now, researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Boston University School of Medicine (MED) have developed and evaluated a fast, accurate, and cost-effective approach to assessing the carcinogenicity of chemicals. As a result, they have generated one of the largest toxicogenomics datasets to date, and have made the data and results publicly accessible through a web portal at

The study was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“The method we developed, once further optimized and validated, would provide for a fast and cost-effective approach to the prioritization of chemicals for further (more expensive/extensive) testing,” says the study’s senior and corresponding author, Dr. Stefano Monti, associate professor of biostatistics at BUSPH and of medicine at MED.

Read more about this study.