Nurses' Health Study I (NHS I): Dietary and Hormonal Determinants of Cancer in Women

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Lead Contacts and/or Principal Investigators (PI):

Funded Since: 1973
Funding Source: NCI Extramural Program (Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences; CA087969External Web Site Policy and CA049449External Web Site Policy)
Year(s) of Enrollment: 1976
Study Website: http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhsExternal Web Site Policy

The overall long-term objective of Nurses' Health Study I (NHS I) is to identify novel dietary and hormonal determinants of breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancer risk in women, with the ultimate aim of finding means for prevention and improved survival. The combination of questionnaire-derived data with biomarkers, coupled with the long follow-up, affords the opportunity to further understanding of the time course and mechanisms of cancer development.

To achieve these objectives, the investigators are relating the following to the incidence of breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancer:

  • prospectively collected data on diet, postmenopausal hormone use, smoking, and other behaviors;
  • nutrient and hormone levels in prospectively collected blood; and
  • genotyping information from archived DNA and tissue blocks.

This research project is based on the Nurses' Health Study cohort comprising 121,700 women who were 30 to 55 years of age when enrolled in 1976. It serves as the central resource for the many related grants addressing incidence of cancer and other major chronic diseases that arise in this cohort of women. Four research projects are being pursued:

  • Project 1. Diet, exogenous hormones, and breast cancer risk. A series of analyses is being conducted that relates specific aspects of hormone replacement therapy and diet and nutritional status to breast cancer incidence and survival among women with the disease.
  • Project 2. Diet hormones, and colorectal cancer risk. A series of analyses is being conducted that relates specific aspects of hormone replacement therapy and diet and nutritional status to colorectal cancer incidence and survival among women with the disease.
  • Project 3. Hormones diet, and ovarian cancer risk. Repeated measurement of diet, body weight, and hormone use are permitting evaluation of relationships between these variables and risk for ovarian cancer.
  • Project 4. Statistical innovations in risk modeling. The rich body of epidemiologic data available through the cohort and the statistical expertise of the investigators provide opportunities to develop methods for prediction of cancer risk and analysis of multiple endpoints.

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