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NIEHS Sister Study on Breast Cancer, Environment and Genes Fully Enrolled and in Follow-up Phase

two women posing for photo

The NIEHS Sister Study is a prospective cohort study of how the environment and genes together affect the chance that a woman will get breast cancer and other diseases. The study includes 50,884 women ages 35-74 recruited from every state and Puerto Rico who have never had breast cancer themselves, but who have a sister diagnosed with the disease. The study, which is the largest of its kind, has already reported some preliminary findings about how factors such as weight and perceived stress may influence health and how early-life exposures may influence development of uterine fibroids and age at menopause. The study started in 2004, enrollment was completed in 2009, and women will be followed prospectively for 10 or more years. The study has led to spin-off projects such as the Two Sister Study, a family-based study of genes and environment funded by a grant from Komen for the Cure.

Tags: genes


Steiner AZ, D'Aloisio AA, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP, Baird, DD. 2010. Association of intrauterine and early-life exposures with age at menopause in the Sister Study. Am J Epidemiol 172(2):140-148. [Abstract] [Full Text]

D'Aloisio AA, Baird DD, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP. 2010. Association of intrauterine and early-life exposures with diagnosis of uterine leiomyomata by 35 years of age in the Sister Study. Environ Health Perspect. 118(3):375-381.

Spector D, Mishel M, Skinner CS, DeRoo LA, VanRiper M, Sandler DP. 2009. Breast cancer risk perception and lifestyle behaviors among white and black women with a family history of the disease. Cancer Nurs 32(4):299-308.

Kim S, Parks CG, DeRoo LA, Chen H, Taylor JA, Cawthon RM, Sandler DP. 2009. Obesity and weight gain in adulthood and telomere length. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 18(3):816-820.

Parks CG, Miller DB, McCanlies EC, Cawthon RM, Andrew ME, DeRoo LA, Sandler DP. 2009. Telomere length, current perceived stress, and urinary stress hormones in women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 18(2):551-560.

Weinberg CR, Shore DL, Umbach DM, Sandler DP. 2007. Using risk-based sampling to enrich cohorts for endpoints, genes, and exposures. Am J Epidemiol 166(4):447-455.

More Information:

NIEHS Programs:

NIEHS Research Funding:

  • Breast Cancer & the Environment Research Centers

News Releases:

  • 2009: First Sister Study Results Reinforce the Importance of Healthy Living
  • 2009: Sister Study Exceeds Recruitment Goal: Now the Real Work Begins
  • 2004: Florida, Arizona, Missouri and Rhode Island Chosen to Kick Off Recruitment of Sisters of Women with Breast Cancer in Landmark Search for Its Causes

Environmental Health Perspectives articles:

Health Information:


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