On the use of biomarkers for environmental health research

Ryan, Louise; Huang, Wenzheng; Thurston, Sally W.; Kelsey, Karl T.; Wiencke, John K.; Christiani, David C.
June 2004
Statistical Methods in Medical Research;Jun2004, Vol. 13 Issue 3, p207
Academic Journal
journal article
This article discusses the growing interest in the use of biomarker data in environmental health research and considers some of the challenging statistical issues that arise. We specify a modeling framework that links environmental exposure, biomarkers and outcome, and discuss in conceptual terms how such a formulation could be used to inform dose response modeling for the purpose of quantitative risk assessment. We then analyse some biomarker data from a case-control study designed to elucidate the mechanisms of smoking induced lung cancer. Because of sample size limitations, we use a likelihood-based analysis which subsumes both cohort and case-control designs as special cases. Our analysis allows us to 1) investigate the extent to which the markers explain the pathway from exposure to outcome; 2) quantify the degree to which biomarker data can improve on predicting outcome over and above exposure; and 3) estimate the association among multiple markers.


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