The Impact of the Nurses' Health Study on Population Health: Prevention, Translation, and Control

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Abstract

Objectives

To summarize the overall impact of the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) over the past 40 years on the health of populations through its contributions on prevention, translation, and control.

Methods

We performed a narrative review of the findings of the NHS, NHS II, and NHS3 between 1976 and 2016.

Results

The NHS has generated significant findings about the associations between (1) smoking and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, colorectal and pancreatic cancer, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and eye diseases; (2) physical activity and cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, psoriasis, and neurodegeneration; (3) obesity and cardiovascular diseases, numerous cancer sites, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, kidney stones, and eye diseases; (4) oral contraceptives and cardiovascular disease, melanoma, and breast, colorectal, and ovarian cancer; (5) hormone therapy and cardiovascular diseases, breast and endometrial cancer, and neurodegeneration; (6) endogenous hormones and breast cancer; (7) dietary factors and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, breast and pancreatic cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, neurodegeneration, multiple sclerosis, kidney stones, and eye diseases; and (8) sleep and shift work and chronic diseases.

Conclusions

The NHS findings have influenced public health policy and practice both locally and globally to improve women's health.

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