The Curious Case of Cholangiocarcinoma: Opportunities for Environmental Health Scientists to Learn about a Complex Disease

J Environ Public Health. 2018 Aug 9;2018:2606973. doi: 10.1155/2018/2606973. eCollection 2018.


Deaths from complex, noncommunicable diseases such as cancer are predicted to continue to increase worldwide, with low- and middle-income countries bearing the brunt of the burden. This problem requires a concentrated global effort to avoid devastating losses of life as well as economic losses. Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a readily studied model of complex, noncommunicable disease, but it receives little attention outside of the scientific community in Southeast Asia. Here, we bring attention to the opportunity to study CCA as a model to understand the role of multiple, complex factors in cancer. These factors include allostatic load, individual genetic susceptibility, and environmental exposures such as chemicals, diet, socioeconomic factors, and psychosocial stress. The study of CCA offers a unique opportunity to make novel observations that could advance progress in prevention and intervention approaches for prevalent diseases that involve complex, multifactorial interactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allostasis*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / genetics
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / genetics
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / physiopathology
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological


  • Environmental Pollutants