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Thousands enrolled in landmark breast cancer study

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( Research Triangle Park, N.C. Thousands of women have joined the Sister Study, the first study of its kind to explore how the environment and genes affect the chances of getting breast cancer. The Sister Study launched nationally during last years Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 2004) and will continue enrollment through 2007 with a focus on recruiting a diverse group of women.

Conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Sister Studys high enrollment figures demonstrate that the participants women whose sisters had breast cancer are eager to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

We are pleased that over 23,000 women have enrolled in the Sister Study in just one year. Were well on our way to our goal of 50,000 diverse participants, said Dale Sandler, Ph.D., Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS and principal investigator of the Sister Study. She added, Its exciting to see how Sister Study participants share our commitment to finding the causes of breast cancer so that future generations dont have to experience the disease.

Through a range of questionnaires and samples from the participants, the 10-year study will take a detailed look at how womens genes, and things women come in contact with at home, at work, and in the community may influence breast cancer risk.

Women in the U.S., ages 35 to 74, may be eligible to join the Sister Study if their sisters had breast cancer. Women who join the Sister Study must never have had breast cancer themselves. Researchers are especially encouraging African-American, Latina, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian-American/Pacific Islander women, as well as women ages 65 to 74, to join the Sister Study.

As we begin the second year of enrollment, we are particularly committed to enrolling women in every state, and from all backgrounds, occupations, races and ethnicities, so that the study results represent and benefit all women, said Dr. Sandler.

Patricia Bango, a 71-year-old participant in the Sister Study and breast health advocate, lost her sister Sally to breast cancer. "I believe that we must take all steps available to make women aware that the chance of developing breast cancer increases with age, she said. Women in their 70s are twice as likely to get breast cancer as women in their 50s. Bango added, The Sister Study brings new hope in research.

Cynthia Suárez and her sister joined the Sister Study as a tribute to their sisters, Tany and Brenda, who were both diagnosed with breast cancer in their thirties. I decided to join the Sister Study because I wanted to do whatever possible to fight breast cancer, said Suárez. It was very frustrating to see my sisters suffering, because there was not much I could do for them at that time. But now I am helping, and I encourage other Latina sisters to be part of the fight.

The Sister Study follows sound, ethical research practices, and keeps all personal data safe, private and confidential. Women who join are not asked to take any medicine, visit a medical center, or make any changes to their habits, diet or daily life.

Organizations that are in partnership with the Sister Study include the American Cancer Society, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health, Sisters Network, Inc., the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. In addition to working with its national partners, the Sister Study works with sororities, churches, labor and professional organizations, civic groups and numerous other local and national organizations to inform diverse women about the study.

Karen E. Jackson, Founder and CEO of Sisters Network Inc. said, Being a Sister Study partner gives our membership of African-American breast cancer survivors an opportunity to spread the word and help be a part of the fight against breast cancer.

Joining the Sister Study is fairly simple, can be done from home when it is convenient for women, and is available in English and Spanish. To volunteer or learn more about the Sister Study, visit the web site, or for Spanish visit A toll free number is also available 1-877-4SISTER (877-474-7837). Deaf/Hard of Hearing call 1-866-TTY-4SIS (866-889-4747).

© Health News 2004 All Rights Reserved.

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