Asset Publisher

Characterization of child health and cancer risks associated with dietary intakes of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Michelle Mendez
Funded by
Diet is the source of 70-90% of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of carcinogenic and genotoxic contaminants capable of crossing the placental barrier among non-smokers. Some aspects of the Mediterranean diet promote elevated intakes of these compounds, due to high consumption of important food sources of these compounds, including shellfish, processed meats (embutidos), and grilled meats. PAHs have been associated with risk of several health outcomes, including breast and colorectal cancers, as well as childhood asthma, conditions with increasing incidence in Spain in recent years.

Several studies have reported cord blood DNA adducts reflecting total PAH exposure to be associated with lower birthweight, poorer neurodevelopment, and compromised respiratory health. Though maternal diet is the principal route of exposure, these studies have described these results largely as evidence of effects of exposure to contaminated air. To our knowledge, only our research group has published evidence of child health risks specifically from prenatal dietary PAH exposure, finding dietary PAH in pregnancy to be associated with lower birthweight. Similar research on neurodevelopment and respiratory health has not yet been conducted. Adverse effects of PAHs are thought to be attenuated by antioxidants that reduce DNA damage, but little is known about such interactions either for child health or for cancers. The majority of studies on dietary PAH and cancers have been conducted in the United States, where fruit and vegetable intakes may not be sufficiently high to counter such effects.

The proposed study aims to contribute to a better scientific understanding of child and adult health risks associated with dietary PAHs using two population-based epidemiological studies in Catalonia: the Infancia y Medio-Ambiente (INMA) child health study in Sabadell, and the multi-case control (MCC-Spain) study of cancer in Barcelona. We aim to conduct etiological research to quantify associations between prenatal dietary PAH and infant respiratory health and neurodevelopment, and between habitual dietary PAH exposure an risk of breast and colorectal cancers. We will examine interactions with antioxidants, and account for genetic susceptibility effects. Based on these results, we will develop culturally-appropriate dietary guidelines that enable both pregnant women and the general population in Catalonia/Spain to minimize thes health risks. Through the active dissemination of these guidelines, we hope to contribute to improvements in population health.


Our Team

Principal Investigator (PI)

  • Emmanouil Kogevinas
    Emmanouil Kogevinas

Our Team

Other projects

See Past Projects


Population based multicasecontrol study on common tumours in Spain


Novel tools for integrating early-life environmental exposures and child health across Europe


Early Genetics Growth/Early Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology


Pregnancy and Childhood Epigenetics


Early-life stressors and LifeCycle health


Network on the Coordination and Harmonisation of European Occupational Cohorts


Health effects of cArdiac fluoRoscopy and mOdern radIotherapy in paediatriCs


Connecting digital mobility assessment to clinical outcomes for regulatory and clinical endorsement


Signs of Early Adaptation to Climate Change


Cohorte Covid-19 en Cataluña


Advancing Tools for Human Early Lifecourse Exposome Research and Translation


Cohort of COVID-19 in Spain: social dynamics, mental health and inequalities


A federated FAIR platform enabling large-scale analysis of high-value cohort data connecting Europe and Canada in personalized health


An integrative strategy of testing systems for identification of EDs related to metabolic disorders


EXposome Powered tools for healthy living in urbAN SEttings


Actionable eUropean ROadmap for early-life health Risk Assessment of micro- and nanoplastics


Fine Particle Matter, Fetal Growth, and Neurodevelopment: Examining Critical Windows of Susceptibility


Pre-natal exposure to urban AIR pollution and pre- and post-Natal Brain development


The role of seafood and nut consumption on human neurodevelopment from pregnancy to adolescence


Urban and social environment and childhood obesity – a natural moving2health experiment


In-Depth Genomics and Cross-Omics Analysis for Undiagnosed Rare Diseases on a User-Friendly Collaborative Platform


An Exposome Approach to Urban Health: Individualized Environmental Exposure Assessment in an Adults Population Cohort Study (GCAT)


Digital Twins Enabled Indoor Air Quality Management for Healthy Living


The Urban Burden of Disease Estimation for POLICY Making


Combining Artificial Intelligence and smart sensing TOward better management and improved quality of LIFE in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Drinking Water in Barcelona: Sustainability and Health Impact Assessment


Innovative Tools to Control Organic Matter and Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water


FTIR spectroscopy for real-time detection of bacterial outbreaks and the rapid identification of pathogenic serotypes, relapsing infections and antibiotic resistance


Occupational exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: From exposure assessment to study of health in workers and their offspring


Exposome Project for Health and Occupational Research


Analysing and studying how night shift work affects workers' circadian rhythms and health


International Human Exposome Network


Una prueba en el punto de atención para la estratificación del riesgo de los pacientes febriles basada en los niveles de sTREM-1


e-health tools to promote Equality in Quality of Life for childhood to young adulthood cancer patients, survivors and their families