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The use of genotoxicity biomarkers in molecular epidemiology: applications in environmental, occupational and dietary studies

1 Environment and Health Research Group, Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Lisboa-Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa (ESTeSL–IPL), Av. D. João II, Lote 4.69.01, 1990-096 Lisboa, Portugal
2 Grupo de Investigação em Genética e Metabolismo, Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Lisboa-Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa (ESTeSL–IPL), Av. D. João II, Lote 4.69.01, 1990-096 Lisboa, Portugal
3 Centro de Investigação em Saúde Pública-Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, (CISP-ENSP), Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
4 Faculty of Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University, London, United Kingdom

Academic Editor:Kagansky Alexander

Molecular epidemiology is an approach increasingly used in the establishment of associations between exposure to hazardous substances and development of disease, including the possible modulation by genetic susceptibility factors. Environmental chemicals and contaminants from anthropogenic pollution of air, water and soil, but also originating specifically in occupational contexts, are potential sources of risk of development of disease. Also, diet presents an important role in this process, with some well characterized associations existing between nutrition and some types of cancer. Genotoxicity biomarkers allow the detection of early effects that result from the interaction between the individual and the environment; they are therefore important tools in cancer epidemiology and are extensively used in human biomonitoring studies. This work intends to give an overview of the potential for genotoxic effects assessment, specifically with the cytokinesis blocked micronucleus assay and comet assay in environmental and occupational scenarios, including diet. The plasticity of these techniques allows their inclusion in human biomonitoring studies, adding important information with the ultimate aim of disease prevention, in particular cancer, and so it is important that they be included as genotoxicity assays in molecular epidemiology.
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