Research Groups

Nutrition and Metabolism - Biomarkers Group


Cancer risk is modulated by complex interactions between genetic, metabolic, and environmental (including lifestyle) factors throughout life. However, our understanding of the role of environmental exposures is still limited and fragmentary. The exposome is defined as the totality of environmental exposures experienced by an individual during their lifetime. Together with modern analytical technologies, this concept provides a new basis for measuring complex exposures in a more comprehensive way and for better understanding the role of environmental factors in cancer etiology.

The chemical composition of human biofluids and tissues is extremely complex, and its variation is tightly linked to environmental exposures. More than 8000 endogenous metabolites have been described in humans. In addition, thousands of compounds have been described in foods, drinking-water, air, and consumer products, and many of these compounds are absorbed in the body and are found in human biofluids such as blood or urine. Together, they constitute the blood or urine exposome. The exposome can be measured in large cohort studies to identify novel biomarkers of exposure, reveal new associations between environmental and lifestyle exposures and cancer risk, and shed new light on the mechanisms linking exposures to cancer outcomes.