$1.9 million will help researchers study how genetic and environmental factors influence metabolic syndrome

Research into the effect of air pollution and the built environment on chronic health diseases related to metabolic syndrome will receive $1.9 million.

Dr. Trevor Dummer

Dr. Trevor Dummer

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health conditions, which include central obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for a number of cancers, and understanding metabolic syndrome will improve strategies to prevent cancer and associated chronic diseases.

The pan-Canadian research team will be co-led by Dr. Trevor Dummer at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Philip Awadalla at the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research, and Dr. John Spinelli at the BC Cancer Agency. The researchers will examine how environmental factors, such as nitrogen dioxide and walkability, change DNA gene regulation and expression. They will also determine if these changes are associated with metabolic syndrome.

“Metabolic syndrome affects one in five Canadians, and people with metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Trevor Dummer. Dr. Dummer is an Associate Professor in the School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and faculty member at the Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention. “This study will provide insight into ways to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome and related chronic diseases, including cancer.”

Dr. John Spinelli

Dr. John Spinelli

“Where we live, work, and play can have a huge impact on the way our DNA code regulates the expression of our genes,” states Dr. John Spinelli. Dr. Spinelli is the Acting Vice-President of Population Oncology at the BC Cancer Agency and Professor at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. “From this study, we will gain a better understanding of how our genes and these DNA changes affect our risk of metabolic syndrome.”

The study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research under the Environments, Genes and Chronic Disease – Chronic Metabolic Diseases program.

The study uses data from over 300,000 adults from the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project. This cross-disciplinary research unites experts in epidemiology, health geography, air pollution science, genetics, endocrinology, and more to answer this pressing public health question.


The Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention is a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and the University of British Columbia. As a network of researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and communities, our research and activities inform programs and policy to prevent cancer. The Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention uses a novel model that links academic excellence with community championship. Preventing cancer and building healthy communities cancerprevent.ca

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.ca.
 
For more details, please contact:
Jennifer Parisi, Communications Director
Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention
T: 604-822-6108
E: jen.parisi@ubc.ca