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Anders Ahlbom

Professor, senior

Visiting address : Scheelelaboratoriet, Nobels Väg 13 Solna, Sweden
Postal address : Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM), C6, Epidemiology, Box 210 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
Delivery address : Scheelelaboratoriet, Nobels Väg 13 Solna, Sweden

Research description


The general objective of the research is to improve the understanding of the impact that environmental and lifestyle factors have on risks of disease.

Issues related to epidemiologic theory and methodology with bearing on causal inference and etiology are of continuous interest. Current topics include assessment of interaction, Bayesian approach to false positive findings, combining data from different disciplines in overall assessments, and meta analysis of observational studies.

A large number of topics related to factors in the occupational and general environment as well as life style are studied, in relation to chronic disease. Studied factors include physical and chemical agents as well as socioeconomic and psychosocial characteristics. The focus has been on cancer and cardiovascular disease. With the advent of modern molecular biologcal technics, genetic questions have frequently been incorporated in the studies. Both case-conrol studies and cohort studies are used and registry data are used extensively.

Health effects of non-ionizing radiation has been a topic of particular interest for a long time. While the focus originally was on magnetic fields generated in connection with generation, distribution, and use of electricity, it has later shifted towards higher frequences and the research is now mainly focused on electromagnetic fields that are used for mobile communication.

Physical activity and effects on health and premature death is another area of continuous interest. The key question is how to separate effects of physical activity from effects of other life style factors that are associated with physical activity inlcuding obesity and from genetic factors that simultaneously could affect both the level of physical activity and health.

A research program related to the aging population has recently been started. The overarching question is the health of the increasing number of old people in the society. It has been hypothesized that the continuing increase in life expectance will be accompanied by a shift in morbidity towards higher ages but this is often challenged by the view that the longer life will result in a longer period of morbidity and dependency for daily life activities. Related to this are fundamental questions such as is there a limit for how long life expectancy will continue to increase, does maximum life span increase along with the increase of life expectancy, and what do mortality rates and mortality trends look like in centenarians. These are questions of profound scientific interest that also are of major importance for the impact that the aging population will have on society in terms of retirement age, required resources for health care, supply of work force, and more.


Active participation in international health risk assessments and scientific reviews is an integral part of the work. A close and formalized collaboration is established with Stockholm County Council.


  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
  • AFA
  • Vinnova

Five selected publications

Jacobs, K.B., et al.

Detectable clonal mosaicism and its relationship to aging and cancer.

Nature Genetics, 2012. 44(6): p. 651-U68


Drefahl, S., et al.

The era of centenarians: mortality of the oldest old in Sweden.

Journal of Internal Medicine, 2012. 272(1): p. 100-102.


Byberg, L., et al.

Total mortality after changes in leisure time physical activity in 50 year old men: 35 year follow-up of population based cohort.

British Medical Journal, 2009. 338.


Andersson, T., et al.

Calculating measures of biological interaction.

European Journal of Epidemiology, 2005. 20(7): p. 575-579.


Ahlbom, A., et al.

A pooled analysis of magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia.

British Journal of Cancer, 2000. 83(5): p. 692-698