Press release: Exposome: “a potential measure of the effects of life course exposures on health”

close up of journalists writing in notepads

See also: the 20-year gap in healthy life between wealthiest and poorest in England

Embargo: 27 Oct 2022, 7pm,

I’d like to invite you to a hybrid Gresham lecture happening today on The Exposome (or watch on replay) by Dr Ian Mudway, Visiting Professor of Environmental Health at Gresham College this year.

This lecture will explain the concept of the exposome, and its  history: Dr Mudway will say: “Pre- August 2005 there was no concept of the exposome, not in the way I’m discussing it here, as a comprehensive set of exposures over an extended period. It’s not that people didn’t appreciate that chemical hazards in the environment caused disease, the occupational literature was very mature, chemical vapours, metal fumes, toxic fibres, fumes and particles - Theophrastus von Hohenheim (a.k.a Paracelsus, father of toxicology) published on the diseases if miners in 1533. Certain environmental stressors such as air pollution were known to be associated with both long and short-term health effects and premature death, and the interaction between chemical carcinogens and cancers were well established, with established biomarkers of dose – DNA adducts, within tumours, but throughout the 1990, into the 2000s this was not the focus of attention.”

Dr Mudway will go on to explore how for many of the major non-communicable diseases (NCD) genetic variation only explained a minor proportion of the risk observed.

“Thus, our environmental exposures appear to be overwhelmingly more influential in determining our mortality risk. But exposure to what? That’s the critical question, though we hardly start with a blank slate, as we already have a firm understanding of the role played by unhealthy diets, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake etc., but this only represents a fraction of our complex environmental exposures and addressing these is therefore critical to understanding NCD risk and improving global health.”

Dr Mudway will go on to discuss how to integrate the concept of the exposome into policy.

And he will end by saying: “in England today (the world’s 5th/6th largest economy) there is an almost 20-year gap between total years of healthy life between the wealthiest and the poorest members of our society, reflecting the totality of their experience, lifestyle and lived environments.  The exposome really matters to these individuals, even if they have never heard of the term.”


Notes for Editors

You can sign up to watch the lecture online or in person at Barnard's Inn Hall on Holborn, or email Lucia Graves for a press seat; we can also send over an embargoed transcript/ put you in touch with Dr Mudway. Lucia Graves, Head of Communications (PR & Media): / 07799 738 439

Read more about Dr Ian Mudway