The role of nutrition in influencing mechanisms involved in environmentally mediated diseases

Bernhard Hennig, Michael C. Petriello, Mary V. Gamble, Young Joon Surh, Laura A. Kresty, Norbert Frank, Nuchanart Rangkadilok, Mathuros Ruchirawat, William A. Suk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Human exposure to environmental contaminants such as persistent chlorinated organics, heavy metals, pesticides, phthalates, flame retardants, electronic waste and airborne pollutants around the world, and especially in Southeast Asian regions, are significant and require urgent attention. Given this widespread contamination and abundance of such toxins as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the ecosystem, it is unlikely that remediation alone will be sufficient to address the health impacts associated with this exposure. Furthermore, we must assume that the impact on health of some of these contaminants results in populations with extraordinary vulnerabilities to disease risks. Further exacerbating risk; infectious diseases, poverty and malnutrition are common in the Southeast Asian regions of the world. Thus, exploring preventive measures of environmental exposure and disease risk through new paradigms of environmental toxicology, optimal and/or healthful nutrition and health is essential. For example, folic acid supplementation can lower blood arsenic levels, and plant-derived bioactive nutrients can lower cardiovascular and cancer risks linked to pollutant exposure. Data also indicate that diets enriched with bioactive food components such as polyphenols and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can prevent or decrease toxicant-induced inflammation. Thus, consuming healthy diets that exhibit high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is a meaningful way to reduce the vulnerability to non-communicable diseases linked to environmental toxic insults This nutritional paradigm in environmental toxicology requires further study in order to improve our understanding of the relationship between nutrition or other lifestyle modifications and toxicant-induced diseases. Understanding mechanistic relationships between nutritional modulation of environmental toxicants and susceptibility to disease development are important for both cumulative risk assessment and the design and implementation of future public health programs and behavioral interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalReviews on Environmental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 28 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.


  • bioactive foods
  • environmental pollutants
  • inflammatory diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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