The effect of lipid adjustment on the analysis of environmental contaminants and the outcome of human health risks.

Audrey J. Gaskins, Enrique F. Schisterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Past literature on exposure to lipophilic agents such as organochlorines (OCs) is conflicting, posing challenges for the interpretation of their potential human health risks. Since blood is often used as a proxy for adipose tissue, it is necessary to model serum lipids when assessing health risks of OCs. Using a simulation study, we evaluated four statistical models (unadjusted, standardized, adjusted, and two-stage) for the analysis of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exposure, serum lipids, and health outcome risk. Eight candidate true causal scenarios, depicted by directed acyclic graphs, were used to illustrate the ramifications of misspecification of underlying assumptions when interpreting results. Biased results were produced when statistical models that deviated from the underlying causal assumptions were used with the lipid standardization method found to be particularly prone to bias. We concluded that investigators must consider biology, biological medium, laboratory measurement, and other underlying modeling assumptions when devising a statistical model for assessing health outcomes in relation to environmental exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-381
Number of pages11
JournalMethods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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