Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS): Prospective Studies of Diet and Cancer in Men and Women

Lead Contact and/or Principal Investigator (PI):

Funded Since: 1986 by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and since 1991 by National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Funding Source: NCI Extramural Program (Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences; CA055075External Web Site Policy)
Year(s) of Enrollment: 1986
Study Website: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hpfsExternal Web Site Policy

The grant provides for continued follow-up for and research on the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) of 51,529 men who completed an extensive dietary questionnaire first in 1986 and again in 1990, 1994,1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010. The program project grant also supports the food composition database and nutrient analysis system used by the Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, and many other studies. This research endeavor has contributed substantially to information on diet and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and bladder.

In this grant, prospectively collected dietary data and frozen plasma and DNA specimens are being used to address a series of hypotheses regarding major cancers in men and women. These nutritional and genetic exposures also are being examined in relation to specific molecular characteristic of tumors. Sites under study include cancers of the prostate, colon and rectum, bladder, lung, kidney, and ovary.

Investigators are extending and refining observations from the first 22 years of follow-up of the HPFS, and are addressing new hypotheses related to both cancer incidence and survival:

  • Project 1 examines dietary (lycopene, calcium, and N-3 fatty acid intakes) and other predictors of prostate cancer incidence in relation to risk of relapse among men with apparently successful treatment for localized prostate cancer. In addition, a series of dietary and hormonal factors are being related to specific characteristics of incident cancers, including expression of phosphotriesterase (PTE) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX 2), and markers of angiogenesis.
  • Project 2 addresses hypotheses that relate intakes of folic acid, calcium, and red meat, and plasma levels of insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and its binding proteins to risks of both colorectal cancer and adenomas. Interactions with germline polymorphisms and relationships with specific molecular tumor characteristics are being examined.
  • Project 3 pools data from all major published prospective studies of diet and cancer, which now number 30 such studies. Precise and unique information has already been obtained for breast, lung, and colon cancers, and analyses are being extended to cancers of the pancreas, ovary, and prostate.

These highly interrelated studies that integrate dietary factors, established non-dietary risk factors, endogenous hormone levels, genetic susceptibility and molecular characteristics of tumors, will contribute to the understanding and prevention of the major cancers of men and women.

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