Cause and Cancer Epidemiology

Steven N. Goodman, Jonathan M. Samet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCancer Epidemiology and Prevention
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199865062, 0195149610, 9780195149616
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009


  • Cancer Risk
  • Causal Inference
  • Causation
  • Epidemiologic Data
  • Lung Cancer
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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