The WHS began in 1992 as a randomized controlled trial testing aspirin, beta-carotene, and vitamin E for preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 39,876 healthy women, aged >45, The trial ended in 2004, and women have been followed observationally since that time. At study entry and annually, women report via questionnaires on a wide range of exposures and endpoints, including cancer and CVD. We confirm these self-reported endpoints with medical records, and cause of death in decedents is ascertained using medical records and death certificates. At baseline, 28,345 women also provided a blood sample, from which plasma, buffy coat, and red blood cells were obtained and stored at -170 C. GWAS data on common variation are available for all women with blood, measurement of rare variants in exomes have just been completed for >23,000 women;and all samples have been assayed for several biomarkers. Objectively assessed 7-day physical activity by accelerometer is being collected on ~18,000 women. The WHS cohort is unique in having GWAS and objectively-assessed physical activity in such a large cohort. Follow-up is excellent;after almost 20 years, morbidity follow-up is 94 percent;and mortality follow-up is virtually 100 percent. At the end of current funding, 6,086 confirmed cancers (2,440 breast, 583 colorectal, 537 lung, 1,517 cancer deaths) will have occurred. During the proposed funding period, cancer and CVD endpoints will increase by 30 percent and 51 percent. The WHS has actively provided data to internal and external researchers, with 444 papers published, 89 ancillary studies funded, and participation in 19 NCI Cohort Consortium collaborative projects. In the proposed funding period, we intend to: (1) continue to update exposure and endpoint information, and maintain the repository of biospecimens, to further facilitate data sharing and collaboration, and (2) use the WHS infrastructure to address specific aims related to physical activity;evaluate the translational potential of gene-based risk and explore gene-by-environment interactions;and examine long-term chemo-protection of low-dose aspirin on cancer. None of the ancillary studies provides funding for ascertainment and validation of cancer (and CVD) endpoints. Continued infrastructure support and follow-up is crucial for maximizing the cost-effective use of this valuable large-scale cohort of women with a rich bank of already collected phenotypic and genetic data.

Public Health Relevance

This application seeks support over the next 5 years for the infrastructure of the Women's Health Study, a large-scale cancer epidemiology cohort of 39,876 women followed since 1992, Data are available on a wide range of characteristics, chronic disease development, blood biomarkers, genetic information, and objectively measured physical activity. Continued follow-up is crucial for building on the enormous amount of data already collected in order to answer critical questions related to cancer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project with Complex Structure Cooperative Agreement (UM1)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-SRLB-9 (M1))
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Elena, Joanne W
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States
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