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The Sister Study

ARCHIVED FACEBOOK POSTS

The Sister Study is on Facebook!

We are excited to let you know that we have created a private Facebook group for the Sister Study to provide a forum for Sister Study participants, colleagues and friends of the study. This private group is by invitation only and not a public forum. We saw the need to have a more dynamic way of communicating with our Sister Study community than just the Sister Study website. We see the Facebook group as a real-time forum where we can post study updates, announcements, and new research findings or plans.

We know that Facebook has been in the news lately because of how they use their users’ data. We want you to know that, as a research study funded by a government entity, we will abide by all NIEHS privacy policies.exit disclaimer We will not share your information with third parties. We ourselves will never post any personal and/or identifiable information on Facebook. If you decide to use your own real name, be mindful that you are responsible for that information. We will provide guidelines for what not to post, such as personal health information, treatment recommendations, and product endorsements or posts with an intent to sell. Our staff will monitor the group to make sure that policies are followed and remove inappropriate material.

We invite you to follow this direct link https://www.facebook.com/groups/niehssisterstudy/ exit disclaimer if you would like to join.

We hope you find this additional communication method helpful and that you enjoy connecting with other study participants, colleagues and friends of the study.

Facebook Posts

Earlier age at menopause is thought to be associated with a lower risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer but increased risk of other chronic diseases such as heart disease. In a recent analysis, Sister Study investigators examined whether exposure to certain metals, as measured in toenail specimens collected from participants at enrollment, was associated with age at menopause. They found that while no individual metal was strongly associated with onset of menopause, lower overall metal levels, particularly essential metals such selenium, zinc, and manganese, were associated with earlier age at menopause.

Learn more here:
Toenail metal concentrations and age at menopause, A prospective study. exit disclaimer

At enrollment, 22% of Sister Study participants reported a history of periodontal disease, or chronic infection and inflammation of the gums. Periodontal disease is thought to be associated with oral, lung and gastrointestinal cancers, possibly because these tissues have an inflammatory response to bacteria spreading from the gums. The association with breast cancer is not known. In a recent collaboration with investigators from the National Cancer Institute, we did not see a clear association between periodontal disease and overall breast cancer risk, though there was some suggestion that periodontal disease is associated with lower risk of ductal carcinoma in situ but a higher risk of invasive disease. More research is needed to understand this discrepancy.

Learn more here:
The Association Between Periodontal Disease and Breast Cancer in a Prospective Cohort Study. exit disclaimer

Dr. Jacob Kresovich is a Sister Study researcher and post-doctoral fellow in the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS. His research explores how a naturally occurring chemical modifications to DNA, called DNA methylation, are related to aging and disease risk. He previously showed that a higher ‘biological age’, as measured changes to DNA methylation, was associated with increased likelihood of developing breast cancer. Currently, he is studying how biological aging is affected by modifiable lifestyle factors such as physical activity and alcohol use.

There are likely some differences in the underlying causes of breast cancer diagnosed before or after menopause. The “Two Sister Study” was an initiative led by Dr. Clarice Weinberg in which we collected information from some of your sisters who had young-onset disease, thereby giving us the opportunity to study risk factors for breast cancer diagnosed before age 50. We recently used data from this companion study to look at whether features of your mother’s pregnancy with you and your birth might affect risk of developing breast cancer at a young age. We observed that having a mother with pre-eclampsia (a serious form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure) was associated with increased risk of developing young-onset disease. We also observed a positive association between higher birth weight and young-onset breast cancer.

Learn more here:
Perinatal and postnatal exposures and risk of young-onset breast cancer exit disclaimer

We have known for a long time that there are many different types of breast cancer and that each subtype likely has some unique risk factors. However, because hormone receptor positive breast cancer is the most common, it has been much easier to identify factors associated with that subtype. In a recently published international collaboration, researchers pooled data to examine genetic risk factors for each subtype separately. They identified 32 previously unknown markers! This information will be useful for understanding the genetic origins of some of the rarer subtypes, including triple-negative disease, and for developing genetic risk scores to predict what individuals are at the highest risk of developing one or more breast cancer subtypes.

Learn more here:
Genome-wide association study identifies 32 novel breast cancer susceptibility loci from overall and subtype-specific analyses. exit disclaimer

Researchers from Dartmouth recently conducted exit disclaimer a study comparing mercury levels in toenail samples from select Sister Study participants to those taken from individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). They observed that ALS patients were more likely to have very high mercury concentrations (above the 90th percentile) than our participants. The Sister Study toenail measurements were from an earlier study exit disclaimer where we showed that toenail metal concentrations were not associated with young-onset breast cancer. Thank you for all you have shared with the Sister Study so researchers can continue to make an impact.

Learn more here:
Keratinous biomarker of mercury exposure associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis risk in a nationwide U.S. study. exit disclaimer

Toenail-Based Metal Concentrations and Young-Onset Breast Cancer. exit disclaimer

As many of you know, we are asking our participants to report any symptoms (or lack thereof) through the COVID-19 symptom study and app exit disclaimer. Thank you for continuing to use the symptom tracker and for encouraging others to also use it!

A few things that we really like about the app are:

  • It can help identify emerging outbreaks by capturing data quickly and in real-time. You and millions of others are contributing to this research just by logging in and reporting your symptoms every day.
  • It helped identify anosmia (loss of sense of smell) as a good predictor of having a coronavirus infection.
  • We have already collected a lot of information about your existing health conditions, medication use, and genetics. With the data collected from the app, we will be able to look out how these factors might be related to whether or not you get infected or how serious your symptoms are.
  • We are able to do all of this while still protecting your privacy. The app developers and other scientists involved will have access to the data that you enter into the app, but we will not share any of the data that we collected specifically for the Sister Study.

If you’d like a more scientific look at how this app can contribute to public health, we recommend checking out these recently published articles:

Your friends and family can download the app and participate too, even if they are not involved in the Sister Study.

Please visit https://covid.joinzoe.com/us exit disclaimer for more information.

Congratulations to Sister Study researcher Dr. Chandra Jackson who received an award jointly funded by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and National Institute of Aging. With this award, Dr. Jackson will study how neighborhood environments and sleep health are related to cardiometabolic function. This work builds on her published research on sleep and metabolic disorders, including a study showing that not getting enough sleep or having insomnia may be associated with certain metabolic disorders in the Sister Study.

Learn more:

Multiple poor sleep characteristics and metabolic abnormalities consistent with metabolic syndrome among white, black, and Hispanic/Latina women: modification by menopausal status exit disclaimer

Dr. Jennifer Woo is the first graduate of the PhD in Epidemiology program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. Using data from the Sister Study, her dissertation focused on how early life trauma may affect adult health, including breast cancer risk and biological markers of stress and aging. Dr. Woo is joining Dr. Dale Sandler’s group as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and will be continuing to do research using data from the Sister Study. She hopes to learn more about how trauma and other early life experiences affect the body and influence individuals’ risks of developing autoimmune or other chronic diseases.

Dr. Mary V. Díaz Santana received her Master’s degree in Epidemiology from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus and later completed a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her doctoral work focused on the role of acculturation in cancer screening among Hispanic women as well as the role of phthalate (a family of chemicals that are used in cosmetics as solvents and to make PVC plastic more flexible) exposure in breast cancer risk and weight change. As a postdoctoral fellow and Sister Study researcher, Dr. Díaz Santana is currently studying prenatal risk factors for breast cancer and diabetes. Dr. Díaz Santana is most interested in lessening the burden of chronic diseases among Hispanics, and plans to examine risk factors for breast cancer subtypes in Hispanic women participating in the Sister Study.

We hope you and your family are staying healthy in these challenging times. As you may know, COVID-19 has proven difficult to track. Whether you have COVID-19 or not, we encourage you to take a few minutes each day to log your health status in the new COVID-19 symptom tracker exit disclaimer. The secure app is free to download and many large studies, including the Sister Study, are asking participants to use the app so that researchers and public health officials can get good information on the spread of this disease and its symptoms. If you enroll as a member of a cohort study and select The Sister Study, we will later be able to link the data you enter in the tracker with data you already gave us to identify factors that affected the likelihood of developing COVID-19 and learn if the virus has any long-term health impacts. Your friends and family can download the app and participate too, even if they are not involved in the Sister Study.

Please visit https://covid.joinzoe.com/us exit disclaimer for more information.

In a pooled analysis lead by Sister Study researchers, we observed a small, positive, but not statistically significant association between self-reported use of powder on the genital area and risk of ovarian cancer. Altogether, the study included 252,745 women from 4 large observational studies, 2168 of whom developed ovarian cancer. The observed positive association may be limited to women with intact reproductive tracts (i.e., women who have not had a hysterectomy or tubal ligation). We did not observe an association between duration or frequency of genital powder use and ovarian cancer risk. Though the results are not definitive, this is the largest study of the topic to date. It also improves upon some of the design limitations of earlier studies, which had previously suggested there is a modest, positive association between genital powder use and ovarian cancer risk.

Learn more here:
Association of Powder Use in the Genital Area With Risk of Ovarian Cancer exit disclaimer

More than 3,000 papers were published by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researchers or grantees in 2019. The institute’s leaders selected 26 for special recognition as Papers of the Year, including 3 Sister Study papers: “DNA methylation changes occur years before breast cancer develops”, “Artificial light while sleeping may lead to obesity in women” and “Study finds eating processed meat increases colorectal cancer risk in women”. Thanks to all of our longtime participants for your continued commitment to the Sister Study!

A recent study, exit disclaimer looked at whether living in an area with higher levels of a type of air pollution - fine particulate matter (PM2.5) - was associated with genetic changes in certain inflammation-related genes. The researchers looked at two inflammation-related pathways [tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFa) and toll-like receptor-2 (TLR-2)], While PM2.5 was not associated with changes to the TLR-2 gene, high levels may be associated with chemical changes (i.e. “methylation”) of the TNFa gene. These changes could affect how that gene is expressed in the body. This work is very preliminary, but could help us understand how air pollution affects the risk of inflammation-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Learn more here:
Long-term ambient fine particulate matter and DNA methylation in inflammation pathways: results from the Sister Study exit disclaimer

Previous research has suggested that poor sleep may be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Sister Study researchers found evidence to support this hypothesis, showing that women who reported frequent napping and other markers of poor sleep were more likely to develop diabetes in the future. Because women in racial or ethnic minority groups were more likely to experience both poor sleep and type 2 diabetes than Non-Hispanic white women, these findings underscore the importance of understanding how early life factors contribute to overall health and health disparities.

In a sample of participants from the Sister Study, we measured biologic age, a DNA-based estimate of a woman’s age. We were interested in studying the association between biologic age and number of live births, as having children is thought to be protective against breast cancer risk. Our study showed for every live birth a woman reported, her biologic age increased by about 3 months. In other words, childbearing may lead to very slight increases in biologic age.

Learn more here:
Reproduction, DNA methylation and biological age exit disclaimer

Air pollution has been linked to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and death, but less is known about air pollution’s role in breast cancer. We evaluated whether air pollution concentrations at the residential level were associated with breast cancer risk. Because the make-up of air pollution varies, we also considered geography and looked at patterns of air pollution composition. We found that among women in the western US and with certain patterns of particulate matter composition, greater exposure to air pollution was associated with higher risk of breast cancer. This research helps to emphasize the importance of continuing to reduce air pollution levels nationwide.

Processed meat has been classified as a cause of colorectal cancer, exit disclaimer and red meat is also thought to be a risk factor for the disease. In a recent Sister Study analysis, researchers sought to further investigate the influence of specific meat products and meat cooking practices on colorectal cancer incidence. Over an average of 9 years of follow-up, 216 women developed colorectal cancer. As expected, we observed a positive association between overall consumption of processed meats and colorectal cancer, with high intake of breakfast sausages and bacon associated with the largest increases in risk. There was also some evidence of a positive association between colorectal cancer and consumption of barbecued or grilled red meat.

Learn more here:
A Prospective Analysis of Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Women exit disclaimer

Please take a look at the newly published Sister Study findings on hair dyes and straighteners. As always, for individualized application of study results, please consult your health care provider.

Read more about it here:
Permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast cancer risk. exit disclaimer

We examined the association between having experienced childhood trauma and multiple measures of sleep quality. 55% of women in the Sister Study reported experiencing some type of childhood trauma, including a natural disaster, major accident, household dysfunction, sexual trauma, physical trauma, and/or psychological/emotional trauma. We found that women who experienced childhood trauma reported getting less sleep at night, taking longer to fall asleep, waking up more often at night, and taking more naps.

Read more about it here:
Traumatic childhood experiences and multiple dimensions of poor sleep among adult women. exit disclaimer

Sister Study staff scientist, Dr. Katie O’Brien, recently received a grant from the Office of Dietary Supplements to study the association between vitamin D supplement use, blood levels of vitamin D, and breast cancer risk among African-American women enrolled in the Sister Study. The link between vitamin D and breast cancer is not well understood, though findings from some studies suggest that regular supplement use and high blood levels are associated with small reductions in risk. However, these studies have included few African-American women, despite the fact that African-Americans are less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to take vitamin D supplements and more likely to have low vitamin D blood levels. Dr. O’Brien will also investigate how some genetic factors may influence vitamin D blood levels in African-American women.

We would like to introduce you to Dr. Mandy Goldberg, a new post-doctoral fellow and Sister Study researcher. Dr. Goldberg recently received her PhD in Epidemiology from Columbia University, where she studied how early-life experiences may affect age at onset of puberty, breast density and benign breast disease. In her new position, Dr. Goldberg is looking forward to studying early-life risk factors for breast cancer in the Sister Study, including how environmental exposures during your mother’s pregnancy and your childhood and adolescence may affect both the timing of puberty and breast cancer risk. Dr. Goldberg is also interested in understanding how family history of breast cancer may influence these relationships.

Working with a summer student from Columbia University, Sister Study researchers found that increasing consumption of red meat was associated with increased risk of invasive breast cancer. Women who consumed the highest amount of red meat had a 23% higher risk compared with women who consumed the lowest amount. Conversely, increasing consumption of poultry was associated with decreased invasive breast cancer risk: women with the highest consumption had a 15% lower risk than those with the lowest consumption. Importantly, the analysis suggested that breast cancer incidence could be reduced if women who eat meat substitute poultry for red meat.

Learn more here:
Study finds a possible link between Meat Consumption and Risk of Breast Cancer exit disclaimer

For the investigation in the link below, we collected information from young breast cancer survivors (diagnosis age less than 45) about their experiences with fertility counseling and treatment. Although 20% of those surveyed said that they were interested in future fertility at the time of their diagnosis, most did not discuss fertility treatment options with their doctor and far fewer actually pursued treatment (only 10% of those who reported interest in future fertility). It is our hope this research will help facilitate communication between oncologists and young patients who may be interested in discussing fertility treatments.

Learn more here:
Fertility-related experiences after breast cancer diagnosis in the Sister and Two Sister Studies exit disclaimer

Meet our Sister Study Operations and Retention team! This group tends to the day-to-day operations of the study. They specialize in operationalizing data collection efforts such as the yearly health update questionnaire, among many other efforts to retrieve information from participants. The team also tends to participants’ individual needs and work to reduce burden so participants continue to remain in the study.

In addition to breast and other cancers, Sister Study researchers are interested in studying risk factors for cardiovascular disease. We recently published a study showing that while higher leisure-time physical activity levels are associated with reduced risk of stroke and transient ischemic attacks, higher levels of occupational physical activity may be associated with an increased risk of experiencing these events.

Read more about it here:
Occupational and leisure-time physical activity differentially predict 6-year incidence of stroke and transient ischemic attack in women. exit disclaimer

The human microbiome, the many microbes that live within our body, is thought to play a role in health and disease. Taking antibiotics for a long period of time could change our microbiome. We looked to see whether taking an oral antibiotic at least three times a week for three months or longer was associated with weight change, finding that chronic penicillin use may be associated with increased risk of obesity. The association between other types of antibiotics and weight was less clear. Though this work suggests that antibiotic use could have long-lasting impacts on weight, we consider it very preliminary and hope that future research will be better able to account for the reason antibiotics were prescribed. Please see the link below for more on these findings thanks to our dedicated Sister Study participants. As always, please check with your health care provider for guidance on how these findings may apply to you.

Read more about it here:
Chronic antibiotic use during adulthood and weight change in the Sister Study. exit disclaimer

While the main goal of the Sister Study is to research environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer, we have the opportunity to study other cancers that are important to women. We recently examined two possible risk factors for uterine/endometrial cancer: douching and use of talcum powder in the genital area. Though we did not observe an association between douching and uterine cancer, we saw some evidence that genital talcum powder use may be associated with an increased risk. We consider this work preliminary and are planning to do additional research using data from other large cohorts. As always, please contact your health care provider for help with applying these findings to yourself.

Read more about it here:
Perineal Talc Use, Douching, and the Risk of Uterine Cancer. exit disclaimer

Many Sister Study participants reported exposure to artificial light while sleeping, including having a small nightlight or light from clock radios on in the room (40%), light from outside the room (31%) or a light or television on inside the room (12%). Exposure to any of these was associated with being overweight or obese upon study enrollment, with stronger associations seen for those reporting lights or television on in the room while sleeping. Women who had exposure to artificial light while sleeping were also more likely to gain weight after baseline. Though we cannot confirm that the relationship is causal, our findings provide evidence that lowering exposure to light while sleeping may be a useful intervention for obesity prevention.

Learn more here:
Sleeping with lights on and weight gain in women linked in new study. exit disclaimer

Sleeping with Artificial Light at Night Associated with Weight Gain in Women. exit disclaimer

Association of Exposure to Artificial Light at Night While Sleeping With Risk of Obesity in Women. exit disclaimer

We previously posted about our findings that higher “biological age”, which is determined by measuring molecular changes to the genome (genetic material), was associated with increased breast cancer risk. In an effort to understand what factors might influence biological age, Sister Study investigators looked for differences in biological age between those who reported doing shift work (7% of participants) versus those who did not. Those who reported doing shift work tended to have a biological age that was older than their age in calendar years, especially if they worked night shifts. On average, those who worked for more than 10 years in a job that included night shifts were 3 years “older” than their chronological age. This research helps us understand some of the chemical processes that may explain previously observed associations between shift work and chronic diseases like breast cancer.

For those interested in learning more about the association between shift work and breast cancer, the National Toxicology Program recently released a report stating that “There is strong, but not sufficient, evidence from cancer epidemiology studies that persistent night shift work (e.g., frequent and long-term, or working a large number of night shifts over a lifetime, especially in early adulthood) causes breast cancer in women.”

Read more about it here:
Shift work, DNA methylation and epigenetic age. exit disclaimer

We would like to introduce you to Dr. Nicole “Nikki” Niehoff, a new post-doctoral fellow and Sister Study researcher. Dr. Niehoff has already made major contributions to the Sister Study through her work as a doctoral student in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, studying air pollutants, pesticides, and physical activity in relation to breast cancer risk. In her post-doctoral position, Dr. Niehoff will continue to study environmental risk factors for breast cancer, including how obesity and other metabolic factors affect the relationship between the environment and cancer, and how multiple pollutants together influence risk.

When we talk about genetic risk factors for breast cancer, we are usually referring to how the genes we are born with can influence our risk of getting breast cancer. However, breast cancer may also be affected by change to our genes that occur after birth. Epigenetics is a term that refers to biologic changes that can affect DNA, including “DNA methylation”, which can affect which genes can be “read” and turned into proteins. In a recent publication, Sister Study authors discuss how they examined more than 400,000 known DNA methylation markers, measured in DNA from blood samples given at study enrollment. The researchers identified several thousand methylation markers associated with breast cancer. Since the associations were stronger for breast cancer diagnosed shortly after study enrollment, they hypothesize that many of these markers may be indicators of early disease. These results could help develop tools for detecting invasive breast cancer at an early stage.

Read more about it here:
Blood DNA methylation and breast cancer: A prospective case-cohort analysis in the Sister Study. exit disclaimer

As previously discussed, even though the DNA you inherit from your parents is generally not modifiable, biological changes within cells over time can affect how the body reads and processes your genetic information. Sister Study investigators are very interested in learning about what environmental and lifestyle factors might affect DNA methylation, a type of genetic alteration that serves as an indicator of which genes are turned “on” or “off”. In a recent study, we identified many such markers that may be associated with high alcohol consumption, which is a known risk factor for breast cancer and other diseases. These results may help explain how alcohol affects the body and increases disease susceptibility.

Read more about it here:
Alcohol and DNA Methylation: An Epigenome-Wide Association Study in Blood and Normal Breast Tissue. exit disclaimer

In a recently published study, Sister Study researchers found that women who ate breakfast every morning were less likely to be or become obese, compared to women who irregularly ate breakfast (3-4 days a week). On the other hand, women who never ate breakfast were also less likely to be obese than those who irregularly ate breakfast. We interpret this to mean that a regular breakfast consumption habit, whether it be eating breakfast every day or never eating breakfast, may be important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Read more about it here:
Day-to-day regularity in breakfast consumption is associated with weight status in a prospective cohort of women. exit disclaimer

The DNA you inherit from your parents is largely fixed and unchangeable. However, outside factors can alter how your body reads and uses the information coded in the genes. One such example is DNA methylation, where the presence of certain molecules (a “methyl” group) on the strand of DNA can affect whether the gene is turned “on” (i.e. it can be read) or “off”. We recently found that Sister Study participants who were born to older mothers had different DNA methylation patterns than those with younger mothers. We do not yet know what this means in terms of health or breast cancer risk, specifically, but it could be a clue as to why some conditions or diseases are more common in individuals born to older mothers.

Read more about it here:
Persistent epigenetic changes in adult daughters of older mothers. exit disclaimer

In a recently published study led by Sister Study investigators Symielle Gaston and Chandra Jackson, women who averaged less than 7 hours of sleep per night and who had difficulty falling or staying asleep were more likely to have metabolic disorders like high blood pressure and obesity. These associations were usually stronger in premenopausal women than postmenopausal women. Because sleep and metabolic disorders were measured at the same time, we could not assess which occurred first. However, this work helps us to understand the biological relationship between sleep and metabolic disorders and to identify possible approaches to prevent metabolic disorders in women. As always, please consult your health care provider to tailor these findings individually.

All paper surveys and other forms you complete and return to the Sister Study are handled by this team. Your responses are securely processed into our system in preparation for their eventual analysis by our researchers. We are grateful for your diligence in completing your health update surveys! Those responses directly inform the research findings we share with you in this Facebook group. Thanks to what you share with us, researchers have published over 100 articles.

Please visit our website to view these articles:
Sister Study articles

Thanks to our Sister Study participants’ continued dedication to the study, researchers are able to publish such important findings as the ones described in this news release. We encourage you to read about "if a woman’s biologic age is older than her chronologic age, she has an increased risk of developing breast cancer."

Read more about it here:
Older biologic age linked to elevated breast cancer risk. exit disclaimer

Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), like estrogen, is a marker of ovarian function. Levels decrease as women approach menopause. AMH levels are thought to correspond with how many egg cells remain in the ovaries, so the measure has implications for fertility. Like estrogen, higher levels may be associated with breast cancer risk. But unlike estrogen, AMH has the advantage that levels do not change across the menstrual cycle, making it easier to use in research studies. Sister Study investigators measured AMH in blood samples collected at enrollment from a subgroup of participants who had not yet gone through menopause, and looked at how dietary factors might be related to levels. The results indicated that dietary fat intake may be associated with lower AMH, but that other factors, including protein and alcohol intake were not related to AMH levels. Please check with your health care provider about applying these results individually.

Read more about it here:
Dietary factors and serum Anti-Müllerian hormone concentrations in late premenopausal women. exit disclaimer

You may find this article on testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 interesting and helpful. As always, please consult your health care provider to interpret and apply specifics to your own health.

Read more about it here: Taking the Uncertainty Out of Interpreting BRCA Variants. exit disclaimer

Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients called antioxidants, which may counteract cell damage caused by harmful substances. Green and black tea contain some types of antioxidants, but their specific health benefits are not fully understood. In a small study that included 889 Sister Study participants, we looked at whether consumption of black or green tea was associated with biologic measures of oxidative stress, a measure of the balance between the body’s potentially harmful (oxidative) and potentially beneficial (antioxidant) chemicals. We found that while black tea may be associated with lower levels of oxidative stress, green tea was not. Related research is looking at whether tea consumption is related to breast cancer risk.

Read more about it here:
Tea consumption and oxidative stress: a cross-sectional analysis of 889 premenopausal women from the Sister Study. exit disclaimer

Did you know that the average age of women in the Sister Study is now 67 years of age? Our youngest Sister participant is just 44 years young and our “wisest” participant is going strong at 89!

Research has shown that engaging regularly in exercise reduces breast cancer risk generally, but it was not clear whether the benefit would also apply to women with a family history of breast cancer. Our research in the Sister Study, where all women have a family history of breast cancer, showed that being more physically active was associated with a reduction in postmenopausal breast cancer, but not premenopausal breast cancer. Please check with your health care provider about applying these results individually.

Read more about the research here:
Adult Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Risk in Women with a Family History of Breast Cancer. exit disclaimer

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Over the years, we have asked you questions about your cardiovascular health and disease history. We are excited to let you know that we are working with cardiovascular disease experts to study environmental contributors to stroke, heart attack, and congestive heart failure. As part of that effort, in October we started requesting medical records to confirm diagnoses and obtain needed details about reported heart conditions such as results of tests performed and disease subtypes. Our goal is to identify preventable environmental causes of cardiovascular disease. We have reached out to some of you for more information about your health history. If you were contacted and returned your authorization forms, we thank you! But if you haven’t yet done so we encourage you to sign and mail your forms soon. Thank you again for your contributions to the Sister Study. We couldn’t do this research without your willingness to participate!

We would like to introduce you to Dr. Symielle Gaston, a post-doctoral research fellow working with the Sister Study. Dr. Gaston is interested in studying how the physical and social environments contribute to racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in cardiovascular health. For instance, how living in neighborhoods with social and physical disorder may negatively affect cardiovascular health. She recently received a grant to support this research. In the Sister Study, she has several ongoing projects, including a study of the association between racial/ethnic discrimination and poor sleep, an understudied contributor to cardiovascular health and other health conditions.

Read more here:
Postdoc awards reflect strong research potential exit disclaimer

We would like to announce that Dr. Alexandra White joined the Sister Study as a Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator. exit disclaimer Dr. White's research will focus on identifying environment and lifestyle risk factors for cancer and understanding the biologic mechanisms that allow cancer to develop. She has already worked for three years as a post-doctoral fellow on the Sister Study, publishing research on factors that may influence breast cancer risk, such as alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, and obesity. She is particularly excited to expand her research to examine the effects of exposure to toxic metals and air pollution on breast density and breast cancer risk.

In the first study to make use of the data from the “Sisters Changing Lives” sub-study, we measured the concentrations of 16 trace elements in each of two sets of toenail samples – the first collected at enrollment and the second in 2013-2014. We found that concentrations of most of the elements decreased over time, with the biggest decreases seen for lead, cadmium and chromium. This was true for women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between enrollment and 2013 and women who were not. This work was led by Drs. Katie O’Brien and Clarice Weinberg, both NIEHS investigators.

Read more about it here:
Do Post-breast Cancer Diagnosis Toenail Trace Element Concentrations Reflect Prediagnostic Concentrations? exit disclaimer


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