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

Am J Public Health. 2016 Sep;106(9):1608-15. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303337. Epub 2016 Jul 26.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health