globe focusing on asia.

From examining the burden of lung cancer on Chinese women to facilitating cervical cancer screening in India, GHI is committed to improving the health of people of all ages in areas across Asia.

Online Cancer Screening Modules

Arthur Michalek, PhD, FACE, Research Professor

Location: Middle East and North Africa
Department: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Michalek is developing online modules for cancer screening in the Middle East and building a research and training program in North Africa.

Chinese woman carrying supplies.

Photo by James Olson

Burden of Lung Cancer on Chinese Women: Taiyuan City Case Control Study

Lina Mu, MD, PhD

Location: China
: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

The incidence of lung cancer among Chinese females is among the highest in the world, with about 80,000 new cases reported and approximately 64,000 deaths each year. The female Chinese population has a low smoking rate of two to four percent, but lung cancer etiology continues to be a problem in female non-smokers. 

Mu’s research seeks to link epidemiological information regarding smoking history, demographic data, family medical history, household information and diet with biomarkers of disease. She is also investigating the relationship between indoor and outdoor air pollution and lung cancer in this study.

Beijing air pollution.

Photo by Lina Mu

Air Pollution During the Beijing Olympics

Lina Mu, MD, PhD

Location: China
Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Lina Mu, UB assistant professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health and a native of China, has received a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study the short-term effects of particulate matter (PM) among Beijing residents.

China has high levels of air pollution, including fine particles in the air, known as particulate matter, which is known to increase the risk of illness and death from cardiopulmonary diseases and cancers.

Beijing waterway.

Photo by Lina Mu

Adverse Health Effects Caused by the Consumption of Arsenic Contaminated Drinking Water

Xuefeng Ren, MD, PhD
In collaboration with Xiaojuan Guo, PhD, and Hongmei Wu, PhD, from Wenzhou Medical College

Location: China
Department: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic (iAs), a known human carcinogen with a ubiquitous distribution in the natural environment, currently affects more than 100 million people worldwide. In collaboration with colleagues in China, Ren is working on several projects to understand adverse health effects related to arsenic exposure such as skin lesions and various cancers. The study field is located in Hetao Plain in Inner Mongolia, China, an area where the drinking water is highly contaminated by arsenic.

The first study aims to determine whether folic acid supplementation can be used as a preventive measure in arsenic-endemic regions. The team has conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled folate intervention trial among people who had arsenic exposure through drinking water in Hetao Plain.

The second proposed study will determine if a causal association of iAs exposure, obesity and diabetes exists. The goal will be to elucidate the role of the environmental factors, i.e., arsenic exposure, in the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes, and to provide critical information needed to prevent the obesity and diabetes epidemic worldwide.

The third study will be based on the fact that both theoretical and laboratory evidence supports that iAs can alter DNA methylation, and thus deregulate gene expression. This has been suggested to play a major role in arsenic-induced toxicity and carcinogenesis. Recent animal studies indicate that environmentally induced epigenetic alterations can be inherited across generations while evidence of epigenetic inheritance in humans is currently lacking. The team will investigate the effects of arsenic exposure in altering DNA methylation and its subsequent effect in changing gene expression. They will aim to determine whether these alterations can be inherited, and whether they are associated with arsenic-induced adverse health effects. The unique study population—three generations of families—will provide valuable information for helping to identify at-risk individuals exposed to arsenic. It may also provide new targets for preventive and therapeutic interventions.

Bangladesh indoor stoves.

Photo by Anne Weaver

Organotin Stabilizers in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Plastic Products and Their Toxic Effects

Xuefeng Ren, MD, PhD
In collaboration with Xiaojiang Tang, Guangdong Medical Laboratory Animal Center and Guangdong Prevention and Treatment Center for Occupational Diseases, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Location: China
Department: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic products are commonplace in every industry and in everyday life.  Many chemical additives, including Organotins (OTs), are not completely bound to the plastic and can be leached from the PVC water supply pipe or product into drinking water or the air. From there, the chemicals can enter various ecosystems. The elevated OTs’ exposure in drinking water and indoor air constitutes a health concern because many OTs are potential human nervous system, developmental or reproductive toxicants.

Ren and Tang’s proposed research to conduct molecular epidemiological studies will further explore the impact of OTs’ exposure on human health, particularly changes in human behaviors and damage to kidneys and the liver. The team expects the refined information to lead to improved risk assessments of OTs and PVC use, and, ultimately, to have a positive impact on PVC regulation and to improve public health.