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Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention$
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David Schottenfeld and Joseph F. Fraumeni

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149616.001.0001

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Cause and Cancer Epidemiology

Cause and Cancer Epidemiology

(p.3) 1 Cause and Cancer Epidemiology
Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention



Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an overview of causal inference, focusing on the interpretation of epidemiologic data on cancer risk. It begins with an introduction to the centuries-old discussion on cause and causation and next considers the epidemiologic concept of causation, setting the discussion in the context of current understanding of carcinogenesis as a multistep process. The criteria for causation, often attributed to the British medical statistician Sir Austin Bradford Hill (Hill, 1965) or to the 1964 Report of the U.S. Surgeon General on tobacco (US Department of Health Education and Welfare—DHEW, 1964), have provided a framework for evaluating evidence to judge the causality of associations. These criteria are addressed in depth, and their application is illustrated with the example of smoking, both active and passive, and lung cancer. The chapter concludes with a consideration of emerging issues concerned with causation, including the interpretation of data coming from the new technologies of contemporary “molecular epidemiology” and new approaches to evaluating causation.

Keywords:   causal inference, cancer risk, epidemiologic data, smoking, lung cancer, causation

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