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A. Heather Eliassen, ScD

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Associate Epidemiologist, Medicine, Brigham And Women's Hospital

Contact Info

A. Heather Eliassen
Brigham and Women's Hospital
181 Longwood Ave

Boston, MA, 02115
Mailstop: 3rd Floor
Phone: 617-525-2104
Fax: 617-525-2008


Margaret Codianni
Channing Laboratory
Brigham And Women's Hospital
181 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA, 02115
Phone: 617-525-2023

DF/HCC Program Affiliation

Cancer Epidemiology
Breast Cancer

Lab Website

Heather Eliassen, ScD

Research Abstract

My research focuses on the associations between lifestyle factors, endogenous hormones and other biomarkers, and breast cancer risk. I have investigated lifestyle factors that may reduce the risk of breast cancer, either via a hormonal pathway or independently, utilizing data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHS II cohorts.
In my investigation of potentially preventive lifestyle factors, I have examined the relations of statin lipid-lowering drugs, tubal sterilization, weight change, and aspirin and NSAID use with breast cancer risk. The associations I observed have led to investigations of the mechanisms underlying these associations. As a co-investigator on sub-cohorts within the NHS and the NHS II that include blood samples from over 60,000 women, I have examined the associations of sex steroid hormone levels with breast cancer risk among both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Stemming from these results, I have explored the determinants of biomarkers, assessing correlations between lifestyle factors and plasma hormone levels. Combining my interests in preventive factors and biomarkers, I am currently pursuing investigations into plasma carotenoids, oxidative stress, and breast cancer risk. I am the PI of three ongoing projects that will further our understanding of carotenoids: a pooled analysis of the world's prospective data on plasma carotenoid levels and breast cancer risk, expanding the analysis of plasma carotenoids and breast cancer in the NHS, and the development of a predictive model for bioavailable carotenoids. I am also PI of two projects investigating the role of oxidative stress in breast cancer, utilizing a novel biomarker of oxidative stress, in the NHS and NHSII.


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