Biological and Statistical Approaches for Modeling Exposure to Specific Trihalomethanes and Bladder Cancer Risk
Salas LA, Cantor KP, Tardon A, Serra C, Carrato A, Garcia-Closas R, Rothman N, Malats N, Silverman D, Kogevinas M, Villanueva CM. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 May 5. [Epub ahead of print]


Lifetime exposure to trihalomethanes (THM) has been associated with increased risk of bladder cancer. We explored methods of analyzing bladder cancer risk associated with 4 THM (chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform) as surrogates for disinfection by-product (DBP) mixtures in a case-control study in Spain (1998-2001). Lifetime average concentrations of THM in the households of 686 incident bladder cancer cases and 750 matched hospital-based controls were calculated. Several exposure metrics were modeled through conditional logistic regression, including the following analyses: total THM (μg/L), cytotoxicity-weighted sum of total THM (pmol/L), 4 THM in separate models, 4 THM in 1 model, chloroform and the sum of brominated THM in 1 model, and a principal-components analysis. THM composition, concentrations, and correlations varied between areas. The model for total THM was stable and showed increasing dose-response trends. Models for separate THM provided unstable estimates and inconsistent dose-response relationships. Risk estimation for specific THM is hampered by the varying composition of the mixture, correlation between species, and imprecision of historical estimates. Total THM (μg/L) provided a proxy measure of DBPs that yielded the strongest dose-response relationship with bladder cancer risk. A variety of metrics and statistical approaches should be used to evaluate this association in other settings.