Photo of A. Heather Eliassen,  ScD

A. Heather Eliassen, ScD

Brigham And Women's Hospital

Brigham And Women's Hospital
Phone: (617) 525-2104
Fax: (617) 525-2008


nhahe@channing.harvard.edu

A. Heather Eliassen, ScD

Brigham And Women's Hospital

EDUCATIONAL TITLES

  • Associate Professor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Associate Epidemiologist, Medicine, Brigham And Women's Hospital

DF/HCC PROGRAM AFFILIATION

Research Abstract

My research focuses on the associations between lifestyle factors, biomarkers of lifestyle and hormones, and breast cancer risk. I have studied ways women may alter their lifestyle to reduce breast cancer risk, using data from the NHS and NHSII cohorts.

In my study of potentially preventive lifestyle factors, I showed that weight loss and increased physical activity after menopause reduced breast cancer risk. As chair of an international collaborative group, I led a pooled analysis of 8 cohort studies and showed that higher blood levels of carotenoids, prominent in fruits and vegetables, significantly reduced breast cancer risk. In an analysis of a biomarker for oxidative stress, we showed oxidative stress may not be an important factor in the relation between carotenoids and breast cancer risk. Continuing the examination of biomarkers that reflect both diet and endogenous synthesis, I am PI of an ongoing R01 to study circulating fatty acids and breast cancer risk in NHSII.

I also have expanded our understanding of the role of hormones in breast cancer etiology, and the intersection between hormones and lifestyle factors. I led the first extensive analysis of urinary estrogen metabolites with risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women, finding unexpected inverse associations. Building upon these findings, I have overseen several analyses to understand how lifestyle factors may impact patterns of estrogen metabolism.

As the Associate Director of NHSII, I serve as a senior scientific resource to others wishing to collaborate, help determine the scientific direction of the study, and lead students in their analyses of biomarkers of diet in relation to breast cancer risk. I also have represented the cohort nationally and internationally. I am active in teaching and mentoring at HSPH, including as the primary instructor for Epi 246: Applied Biomarkers in Cancer Epidemiology.

Through contributions to the framework of the NHS/NHSII cohorts, applying the data obtained to study lifestyle factors and breast cancer etiology, collaborating with others in the field, and mentoring younger researchers, I continue my contributions to the field of breast cancer epidemiology.

 

Publications

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  • Oh H, Smith-Warner SA, Tamimi RM, Wang M, Xu X, Hankinson SE, Fuhrman BJ, Ziegler RG, Eliassen AH. Dietary Fat and Fiber Intake Is Not Associated with Patterns of Urinary Estrogen Metabolites in Premenopausal Women. J Nutr 2015. PubMed
  • Koushik A, Wang M, Anderson KE, van den Brandt P, Clendenen TV, Eliassen AH, Freudenheim JL, Genkinger JM, Håkansson N, Marshall JR, McCullough ML, Miller AB, Robien K, Rohan TE, Schairer C, Schouten LJ, Tworoger SS, Wang Y, Wolk A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Smith-Warner SA. Intake of vitamins A, C, and E and folate and the risk of ovarian cancer in a pooled analysis of 10 cohort studies. Cancer Causes Control 2015. PubMed
  • Sisti JS, Hankinson SE, Caporaso NE, Gu F, Tamimi RM, Rosner B, Xu X, Zeigler R, Eliassen AH. Caffeine, coffee and tea intake and urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2015. PubMed
  • Sisti JS, Lindström S, Kraft P, Tamimi RM, Rosner BA, Wu T, Willett WC, Eliassen AH. Premenopausal plasma carotenoids, fluorescent oxidation products, and subsequent breast cancer risk in the nurses' health studies. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2015; 151:415-25. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Liao X, Rosner B, Tamimi RM, Tworoger SS, Hankinson SE. Plasma carotenoids and risk of breast cancer over 20 y of follow-up. Am J Clin Nutr 2015; 101:1197-205. PubMed
  • Zhang X, Eliassen AH, Tamimi RM, Hazra A, Beck AH, Brown M, Collins LC, Rosner B, Hankinson SE. Adult body size and physical activity in relation to risk of breast cancer according to tumor androgen receptor status. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2015. PubMed
  • Rosner B, Eliassen AH, Toriola AT, Hankinson SE, Willett WC, Natarajan L, Colditz GA. Short-term weight gain and breast cancer risk by hormone receptor classification among pre- and postmenopausal women. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2015; 150:643-53. PubMed
  • Farvid MS, Eliassen AH, Cho E, Chen W, Willett WC. Adolescent and early adulthood dietary carbohydrate quantity and quality in relation to breast cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2015. PubMed
  • Kotsopoulos J, Shafrir AL, Rice M, Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH, Tworoger SS, Narod SA. The relationship between bilateral oophorectomy and plasma hormone levels in postmenopausal women. Horm Cancer 2015; 6:54-63. PubMed
  • Zhang M, Qureshi AA, Fortner RT, Hankinson SE, Wei Q, Wang LE, Eliassen AH, Willett WC, Hunter DJ, Han J. Teenage acne and cancer risk in US women: A prospective cohort study. Cancer 2015. PubMed
  • Winter AC, Rice MS, Fortner RT, Eliassen AH, Kurth T, Tamimi RM. Migraine and breast cancer risk: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2014; 107:381. PubMed
  • Bertrand KA, Rosner B, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Rexrode KM, Willett W, Tamimi RM. Premenopausal plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D, mammographic density, and risk of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2015; 149:479-87. PubMed
  • Oh H, Boeke CE, Tamimi RM, Smith-Warner SA, Wang M, Willett WC, Eliassen AH. The interaction between early-life body size and physical activity on risk of breast cancer. Int J Cancer 2014. PubMed
  • Hirko KA, Spiegelman D, Willett WC, Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH. Alcohol consumption in relation to plasma sex hormones, prolactin and sex hormone-binding globulin in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2014. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Zhang X, Eliassen AH, Qian J, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Rosner BA, Kraft P, Hankinson SE. Inclusion of endogenous hormone levels in risk prediction models of postmenopausal breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 2014; 32:3111-7. PubMed
  • Farvid MS, Cho E, Chen WY, Eliassen AH, Willett WC. Adolescent meat intake and breast cancer risk. Int J Cancer 2014. PubMed
  • Boeke CE, Eliassen AH, Chen WY, Cho E, Holmes MD, Rosner B, Willett WC, Tamimi RM. Dietary fat intake in relation to lethal breast cancer in two large prospective cohort studies. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2014. PubMed
  • Du M, Kraft P, Eliassen AH, Giovannucci E, Hankinson SE, De Vivo I. Physical activity and risk of endometrial adenocarcinoma in the Nurses' Health Study. Int J Cancer 2014; 134:2707-16. PubMed
  • Zhang M, Zhang X, Qureshi AA, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Han J. Association between cutaneous nevi and breast cancer in the Nurses' Health Study: a prospective cohort study. PLoS Med. 2014; 11:e1001659. PubMed
  • Farvid MS, Cho E, Chen WY, Eliassen AH, Willett WC. Premenopausal dietary fat in relation to pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2014; 145:255-65. PubMed
  • Wang J, Eliassen AH, Spiegelman D, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Plasma free 25-hydroxyvitamin D, vitamin D binding protein, and risk of breast cancer in the Nurses' Health Study II. Cancer Causes Control 2014. PubMed
  • Boeke CE, Tamimi RM, Berkey CS, Colditz GA, Eliassen AH, Malspeis S, Willett WC, Frazier AL. Adolescent Carotenoid Intake and Benign Breast Disease. Pediatrics 2014. PubMed
  • Fortner RT, Oh H, Daugherty SE, Xu X, Hankinson SE, Ziegler RG, Eliassen AH. Analgesic use and patterns of estrogen metabolism in premenopausal women. Horm Cancer 2014; 5:104-12. PubMed
  • Boeke CE, Eliassen AH, Oh H, Spiegelman D, Willett WC, Tamimi RM. Adolescent physical activity in relation to breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2014. PubMed
  • Graff RE, Cho E, Lindström S, Kraft P, Willett WC, Eliassen AH. Premenopausal Plasma Ferritin Levels, HFE Polymorphisms, and Risk of Breast Cancer in the Nurses' Health Study II. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2014. PubMed
  • Farvid MS, Cho E, Chen WY, Eliassen AH, Willett WC. Dietary protein sources in early adulthood and breast cancer incidence: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2014; 348:g3437. PubMed
  • Hogervorst JG, Fortner RT, Mucci LA, Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Wilson KM. Associations between dietary acrylamide intake and plasma sex hormone levels. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2013; 22:2024-36. PubMed
  • Ahern TP, Hankinson SE, Willett WC, Pollak MN, Eliassen AH, Tamimi RM. Plasma C-peptide, mammographic breast density, and risk of invasive breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2013; 22:1786-96. PubMed
  • Hendrickson SJ, Willett WC, Rosner BA, Eliassen AH. Food predictors of plasma carotenoids. Nutrients 2013; 5:4051-66. PubMed
  • Fortner RT, Tworoger SS, Wu T, Eliassen AH. Plasma florescent oxidation products and breast cancer risk: repeated measures in the Nurses' Health Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2013; 141:307-16. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Zhang X, Qian J, Sluss PM, Rosner BA, Hankinson SE. A 20-year prospective study of plasma prolactin as a risk marker of breast cancer development. Cancer Res 2013; 73:4810-9. PubMed
  • Xie J, Tworoger SS, Franke AA, Terry KL, Rice MS, Rosner BA, Willett WC, Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH. Plasma enterolactone and breast cancer risk in the Nurses' Health Study II. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2013; 139:801-9. PubMed
  • Bauer SR, Fortner RT, Gates MA, Heather Eliassen A, Hankinson SE, Tworoger SS. Analgesic use in relation to sex hormone and prolactin concentrations in premenopausal women. Cancer Causes Control 2013. PubMed
  • Hendrickson SJ, Lindström S, Eliassen AH, Rosner BA, Chen C, Barrdahl M, Brinton LA, Buring JE, Canzian F, Chanock SJ, Clavel-Chapelon F, Figueroa JD, Gapstur SM, Garcia-Closas M, Gaudet MM, Haiman C, Hazra A, Henderson BE, Hoover R, Husing A, Johansson M, Kaaks R, Khaw KT, Kolonel L, Le Marchand L, Lissowska J, Lund E, McCullough M, Peplonska B, Riboli E, Sacerdote C, Sanchez MJ, Tjonneland A, Trichopoulos D, van Gils CH, Yeager M, Kraft P, Hunter DJ, Ziegler RG, Willett WC. Plasma carotenoid- and retinol-weighted gene scores and risk of breast cancer in the National Cancer Institute Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2013. PubMed
  • Fortner RT, Eliassen AH, Spiegelman D, Willett WC, Barbieri RL, Hankinson SE. Premenopausal endogenous steroid hormones and breast cancer risk: results from the Nurses' Health Study II. Breast Cancer Res 2013; 15:R19. PubMed
  • Zhang X, Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE. Postmenopausal plasma sex hormone levels and breast cancer risk over 20 years of follow-up. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2013; 137:883-92. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Hendrickson SJ, Brinton LA, Buring JE, Campos H, Dai Q, Dorgan JF, Franke AA, Gao YT, Goodman MT, Hallmans G, Helzlsouer KJ, Hoffman-Bolton J, Hultén K, Sesso HD, Sowell AL, Tamimi RM, Toniolo P, Wilkens LR, Winkvist A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Hankinson SE. Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: pooled analysis of eight prospective studies. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2012; 104:1905-16. PubMed
  • Hendrickson SJ, Hazra A, Chen C, Eliassen AH, Kraft P, Rosner BA, Willett WC. 硫-Carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase 1 single nucleotide polymorphisms in relation to plasma carotenoid and retinol concentrations in women of European descent. Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96:1379-89. PubMed
  • Xie J, Eliassen AH, Xu X, Matthews CE, Hankinson SE, Ziegler RG, Tworoger SS. Body Size in Relation to Urinary Estrogens and Estrogen Metabolites (EM) Among Premenopausal Women during the Luteal Phase. Horm Cancer 2012; 3:249-60. PubMed
  • Bertrand KA, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Gierach GL, Xu X, Rosner B, Ziegler RG, Tamimi RM. Urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites and mammographic density in premenopausal women. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012; 136:277-87. PubMed
  • Gu F, Caporaso NE, Schairer C, Fortner RT, Xu X, Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH, Ziegler RG. Urinary concentrations of estrogens and estrogen metabolites and smoking in Caucasian women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2012. PubMed
  • Michels KB, Terry KL, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Willett WC. Adult weight change and incidence of premenopausal breast cancer. Int J Cancer 2011. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Rosner B, Holmes MD, Willett WC. Physical activity and risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women. Arch Intern Med 2010; 170:1758-64. PubMed
  • Kotsopoulos J, Tworoger SS, Campos H, Chung FL, Clevenger CV, Franke AA, Mantzoros CS, Ricchiuti V, Willett WC, Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH. Reproducibility of plasma and urine biomarkers among premenopausal and postmenopausal women from the Nurses' Health Studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010; 19:938-46. PubMed
  • Gates MA, Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Hankinson SE. Analgesic use and sex steroid hormone concentrations in postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010; 19:1033-41. PubMed
  • Danforth KN, Eliassen AH, Tworoger SS, Missmer SA, Barbieri RL, Rosner BA, Colditz GA, Hankinson SE. The association of plasma androgen levels with breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer risk factors among postmenopausal women. Int J Cancer 2009; 126:199-207. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Ziegler RG, Rosner B, Veenstra TD, Roman JM, Xu X, Hankinson SE. Reproducibility of fifteen urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites over a 2- to 3-year period in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009; 18:2860-8. PubMed
  • Kotsopoulos J,Eliassen AH,Missmer SA,Hankinson SE,Tworoger SS. Relationship between caffeine intake and plasma sex hormone concentrations in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Cancer 2009; 115:2765-74. PubMed
  • Su X,Hankinson SE,Clevenger CV,Eliassen AH,Tworoger SS. Energy balance, early life body size, and plasma prolactin levels in postmenopausal women. Cancer Causes Control 2008; 20:253-62. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH,Chen WY,Spiegelman D,Willett WC,Hunter DJ,Hankinson SE. Use of aspirin, other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and acetaminophen and risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women in the Nurses' Health Study II. Arch Intern Med 2009; 169:115-21; discussion 121. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH,Missmer SA,Tworoger SS,Hankinson SE. Circulating 2-hydroxy- and 16alpha-hydroxy estrone levels and risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2008; 17:2029-35. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH,Hankinson SE. Endogenous hormone levels and risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers: prospective studies. Adv Exp Med Biol 2008; 630:148-65. PubMed
  • Schernhammer ES, Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Holly JM, Pollak MN, Hankinson SE. Body shape throughout life and correlations with IGFs and GH. Endocr Relat Cancer 2007; 14:721-32. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Missmer SA, Eliassen AH, Barbieri RL, Dowsett M, Hankinson SE. Physical activity and inactivity in relation to sex hormone, prolactin, and insulin-like growth factor concentrations in premenopausal women - exercise and premenopausal hormones. Cancer Causes Control 2007; 18:743-52. PubMed
  • Hankinson SE,Eliassen AH. Endogenous estrogen, testosterone and progesterone levels in relation to breast cancer risk. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2007; 106:24-30. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Sluss P, Hankinson SE. A prospective study of plasma prolactin concentrations and risk of premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 2007; 25:1482-8. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Tworoger SS, Hankinson SE. Reproductive factors and family history of breast cancer in relation to plasma prolactin levels in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Int J Cancer 2007; 120:1536-41. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Kelesidis T, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Mantzoros CS, Hankinson SE. Plasma adiponectin concentrations and risk of incident breast cancer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007; 92:1510-6. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Tworoger SS, Mantzoros CS, Pollak MN, Hankinson SE. Circulating insulin and c-peptide levels and risk of breast cancer among predominately premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2007; 16:161-4. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Baer H, Rich-Edwards J, Michels KB, Barbieri RL, Dowsett M, Hankinson SE. Birthweight and body size throughout life in relation to sex hormones and prolactin concentrations in premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006; 15:2494-501. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Tworoger SS, Spiegelman D, Barbieri RL, Dowsett M, Hankinson SE. Endogenous steroid hormone concentrations and risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2006; 98:1406-15. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Adult weight change and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. JAMA 2006; 296:193-201. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Missmer SA, Eliassen AH, Spiegelman D, Folkerd E, Dowsett M, Barbieri RL, Hankinson SE. The association of plasma DHEA and DHEA sulfate with breast cancer risk in predominantly premenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006; 15:967-71. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Tworoger SS, Hankinson SE. Endogenous steroid hormone concentrations and risk of breast cancer: does the association vary by a woman's predicted breast cancer risk? J Clin Oncol 2006; 24:1823-30. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Hankinson SE. Tubal sterilization in relation to breast cancer risk. Int J Cancer 2005; 118:2026-30. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Colditz GA, Peterson KE, Furtado JD, Fay ME, Sorensen G, Emmons KM. Biomarker validation of dietary intervention in two multiethnic populations. Prev Chronic Dis 2006; 3:A44. PubMed
  • Eliassen AH, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Serum lipids, lipid-lowering drugs, and the risk of breast cancer. Arch Intern Med 2005; 165:2264-71. PubMed
  • Missmer SA, Eliassen AH, Barbieri RL, Hankinson SE. Endogenous estrogen, androgen, and progesterone concentrations and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2004; 96:1856-65. PubMed
  • Tworoger SS, Eliassen AH, Rosner B, Sluss P, Hankinson SE. Plasma prolactin concentrations and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Cancer Res 2004; 64:6814-9. PubMed
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