The 'exposome': tracing chronic diseases and their environmental causes

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Around the world, tens of thousands of chemicals are present in the environment, in soil, the air and in water, and little is known about their individual consequences on human health nor how to measure them. Lifelong exposure to environmental pollution and the non-genetic causation of diseases this may have is the focus of a relatively recent and pioneering field of inter-disciplinary scientific research, and which encompasses social and dietary factors, a notion called the ‘exposome’. In this interview with Mediapart’s Jade Lindgaard, epidemiologist Paolo Vineis, one of Europe’s leading specialists on the subject, explains the umbrella approach of ‘exposomics’.       

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The concept of what is called the ‘exposome’ is the study of all exposures to which an individual is subjected throughout their life, and beginning before birth, such as from the environment, through diet, and from their social and economic lifestyle, and the consequences these non-genetic factors have on health, and notably the development and progress of chronic diseases.