Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cancer Informatics





DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

December 2015


In evaluation of cancer risk related to environmental chemical exposures, the effect of many chemicals on disease is ultimately of interest. However, because of potentially strong correlations among chemicals that occur together, traditional regression methods suffer from collinearity effects, including regression coefficient sign reversal and variance inflation. In addition, penalized regression methods designed to remediate collinearity may have limitations in selecting the truly bad actors among many correlated components. The recently proposed method of weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression attempts to overcome these problems by estimating a body burden index, which identifies important chemicals in a mixture of correlated environmental chemicals. Our focus was on assessing through simulation studies the accuracy of WQS regression in detecting subsets of chemicals associated with health outcomes (binary and continuous) in site-specific analyses and in non-site-specific analyses. We also evaluated the performance of the penalized regres-sion methods of lasso, adaptive lasso, and elastic net in correctly classifying chemicals as bad actors or unrelated to the outcome. We based the simulation study on data from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Program (NCI-SEER) case–control study of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) to achieve realistic exposure situations. Our results showed that WQS regression had good sensitivity and specificity across a variety of conditions considered in this study. The shrinkage methods had a tendency to incorrectly identify a large number of components, especially in the case of strong association with the outcome.


Copyright © the authors, publisher and licensee Libertas Academica Limited. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC 3.0 License. Paper subject to independent expert blind peer review by minimum of two reviewers. All editorial decisions made by independent academic editor. Upon submission manuscript was subject to anti-plagiarism scanning. Prior to publication all authors have given signed confirmation of agreement to article publication and compliance with all applicable ethical and legal requirements, including the accuracy of author and contributor information, disclosure of competing interests and funding sources, compliance with ethical requirements relating to human and animal study participants, and compliance with any copyright requirements of third parties. This journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Published by Libertas Academica.

Is Part Of

VCU Biostatistics Publications