Black Women's Health Study (BWHS): A Follow-up Study for Causes of Illness in Black Women

Lead Contacts and/or Principal Investigators (PIs):

Funded Since: 1994
Funding Source: NCI Extramural Program (Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences; R01CA058420External Web Site Policy)
Year(s) of Enrollment: 1995
Study Website: http://www.bu.edu/bwhsExternal Web Site Policy

The Black Women's Health Study (BWHS) cohort was established in 1995 when 59,000 black women ages 21 to 69 years from all regions of the United States completed mail questionnaires providing data on a wide range of factors. The aim is to determine the effects on the incidence of breast cancer, other cancers, and other serious illnesses of a variety of potential risk factors, including the following:

  • obesity,
  • physical activity,
  • diet and alcohol,
  • hormonal factors,
  • psychosocial factors,
  • neighborhood and built environment,
  • early life factors, and
  • genetic factors.

Methods for following participants, collecting, processing, managing the data, and validating cancer outcomes have been developed, and results of analyses of the baseline data have been published. Participants have been followed through biennial mail questionnaires, with follow-up frequencies exceeding 80 percent in each round. African-American women suffer a greater burden of cancer morbidity than white women, but have been underrepresented in research studies. The BWHS will contribute to the effort to improve the health of African-American women by providing insight into causes and preventives of breast cancer and other cancers, and useful information for intervention programs.

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