Studies of environmental causes of disease need to be more rigorous, leading scientists say

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 29 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1116
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    Researchers and policy makers should make greater use of observational studies to identify environmental and lifestyle causes of disease, a report by leading UK scientists recommended this week. But the design of studies needs to be improved for a better understanding of causal pathways, it says.

    The study assessed evidence on the use and interpretation of research in the field, reviewed the literature, and held workshops involving a wide range of stakeholders. “The evidence is clear cut,” the report says. “Environmental influences are both strong and important in the causal processes leading to most common diseases. Nevertheless, the knowledge on the specifics of environmental influences, and of the biological pathways through which they exert their causal …

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