Dr. Hankinson's research interests include the relationships between hormones (endogenous and exogenous) and subsequent risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers and the use of biomarkers in epidemiologic research. Our research group follows two large cohorts of women, the Nurses' Health Study (121,700 women) and the Nurses' Health Study II (116,000 women). In 1989, we collected blood samples from a subset of women in the NHSI and we are now collecting blood and urine samples (timed according to their menstrual cycle) from women in the NHSII. Using these archived samples, we are evaluating the relationships between plasma and urinary hormone levels and breast cancer risk. In addition, we are evaluating a wide range of other plasma and genetic markers as predictors of cancer risk in women (e.g., plasma antioxidant, vitamin D, and IGF-I levels in relation to breast and colon cancers).
Using questionnaire data from these cohorts, our research group is also evaluating lifestyle factors, such as exogenous hormone use and dietary intake, in relation to subsequent risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.