Academics, Health, News

Business professor researches link between auto traffic, cancer

Yongtao Guan, a business management professor, will work on a multi-year project to look at the correlation between auto traffic and cancer.

The School of Business Administration and the Yale School of Public Health received a $453,000 grant to do the research. Senior researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California have found that vehicles accounted for about 66 percent of the emissions of benzene, a carcinogen linked with cancer.

Guan, the project’s lead researcher, has always been interested in modeling data with correlations such as spatial, recurrent event and longitudinal data. This approach is the driving force that separates this study from previous ones.

Guan says that data can be extracted from many different sources, but the problem is that it doesn’t take into account the different types of spatial uncertainty.

“Spatial uncertainty basically means that when you look at a person, you want to establish some connections between cancer risk,” he said in an interview earlier this year on Coral Gables TV. “For example, in their particular setting it is exposure to traffic. You want to know where the person lives over the years. Spatial uncertainty is involved because you don’t know exactly where the person lives.”

Guan was not available to speak to The Miami Hurricane, despite several attempts to reach him.

Most of the data is based on a geographic information system, which is a software that translates an actual address into longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. The problem is that there have been instances when this software has provided inaccurate information.

Guan agrees that a small space of uncertainty would make a huge difference in calculating results.

“We want to look at every specific type of cancer, and we want to see if there is any link between the type of cancer and the exposure to traffic,” he said in the TV interview.

This gap in previous research attempts has driven him to come up with user-friendly software for the public to use to assess the cancer risk associated with current or future living, commerce and recreational environments.

Because of the collaboration with Yale of Public Health and the Connecticut Tumor Registry, Guan said that “we have about 10 years of data to work with.”

The research is still in its beginning stage, but the team is confident that it will achieve results over the four-year period of the study.

October 11, 2013

Reporters

Juliana Diez


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.