Nurses' Health Study Contributions on the Epidemiology of Less Common Cancers: Endometrial, Ovarian, Pancreatic, and Hematologic

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Abstract

Objectives

To review the contributions of the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) to epidemiologic knowledge of endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, and hematologic cancers.

Methods

We reviewed selected NHS publications from 1976 to 2016, including publications from consortia and other pooled studies.

Results

NHS studies on less common cancers have identified novel risk factors, such as a reduced risk of endometrial cancer in women of advanced age at last birth, and have clarified or prospectively confirmed previously reported associations, including an inverse association between tubal ligation and ovarian cancer. Through biomarker research, the NHS has furthered understanding of the pathogenesis of rare cancers, such as the role of altered metabolism in pancreatic cancer risk and survival. NHS investigations have also demonstrated the importance of the timing of exposure, such as the finding of a positive association of early life body fatness, but not of usual adult body mass index, with non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk.

Conclusions

Evidence from the NHS has informed prevention strategies and contributed to improved survival from less common but often lethal malignancies, including endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, and hematologic cancers.

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