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Researchers Seeking More Minority Women for 'Sister Study' on Breast Cancer Risk Factors (dateline August 25, 2007)

Researchers of a large breast cancer study of sisters are encouraging more minority women to enroll to ensure a diverse study sample and far-reaching results. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) plans to enroll 50,000 women in its Sister Study by the end of 2007. The study's purpose is to study breast cancer risk factors in sisters of women diagnosed with breast cancer. As of August 7, 2007, 39,176 women had enrolled in the study, 12% of whom represent minorities.

"During 2007, our last recruitment year, we are urgently requesting each of you or your organization to help us get 5 to 50 women to enroll in the study," the Sister Study website stated.

The largest study of its kind to study breast cancer risk factors, the Sister Study will follow participants for 10 years. Women who develop breast cancer will be compared with those who do not. At the onset of the study, participants will be asked to complete several questionnaires and provide a sample of their blood, urine, toenails, and household dust.

Currently, the Sister Study has enrolled:

  • 2,531 African American sisters
  • 463 American Indian sisters
  • 335 Asian sisters
  • 1,300 Latina sisters
  • 5,329 senior sisters aged 65-74

By studying women who have similar genes and often share similar environments, researchers hope to gain insight into the causes of breast cancer. Women who meet the following requirements may be eligible to enroll in the Sister Study:

  • Be between 35 and 74 years of age
  • Live in the United States
  • Have no personal history of breast cancer Have a sister (living or deceased) who has had breast cancer

According to the Sister Study website, "through a range of questionnaires and samples from the participants, the 10-year study will take a detailed look at how women's genes, and things women come in contact with at home, at work, and in the community may influence breast cancer risk."

Women who enroll in the Sister Study will be mailed a study kit that contains study information, questionnaires, and material to use when collecting urine, toenail, and household dust samples. In addition, women will be required to participate in a visit by a female health professional during which time a blood test and other various tests will be administered. Paper questionnaires and a telephone interview are also required.

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