Validity of Epidemiological Data in Risk Assessment Applications
Data from epidemiological studies might be seen as superior to data from animal bioassays for risk assessment purposes. Because humans are the population of interest, use of epidemiological data avoids interspecies extrapolation. However, one must not assume that an epidemiological study is necessarily valid at face value. We describe issues of validity that arise in the conduct and interpretation of epidemiological research and that affect the utility of epidemiological data in risk assessment. These issues include choice of study design, size and representativeness of the study sample, measurement of exposures and outcomes, control of confounding and specification of statistical model for analysis of data, all of which affect the accuracy and validity of study results.