Background: The paradigm of human risk assessment includes many variables that must be viewed collectively in order to improve human health and prevent chronic disease. The pathology of chronic diseases is complex, however, and may be influenced by exposure to environmental pollu-tants, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor dietary habits. Much of the emerging evidence suggests that nutrition can modulate the toxicity of environmental pollutants, which may alter human risks associated with toxicant exposures.

Objectives: In this commentary, we discuss the basis for recommending that nutrition be considered a critical variable in disease outcomes associated with exposure to environmental pollutants, thus establishing the importance of incorporating nutrition within the context of cumulative risk assessment.

Discussion: A convincing body of research indicates that nutrition is a modulator of vulnerability to environmental insults; thus, it is timely to consider nutrition as a vital component of human risk assessment. Nutrition may serve as either an agonist or an antagonist (e.g., high-fat foods or foods rich in antioxidants, respectively) of the health impacts associated with exposure to environmental pollutants. Dietary practices and food choices may help explain the large variability observed in human risk assessment.