National Cancer Institute
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A Follow-up Study for Causes of Cancer in Black Women: Black Women's Health Study (BWHS)

Cohort Collaboration Contact

If interested in collaborating with the cohort on a project, please contact:

Principal Investigators

  • Lynn Rosenberg, ScD (Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University)
  • Julie Palmer, ScD (Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University)
Cohort Website


The Black Women's Health Study (BWHS) is an ongoing follow-up study for cancer and other serious illnesses in African American (AA) women. The study began in 1995 when 59,000 women (median age, 38) from across the U.S. enrolled by completing health questionnaires. The BWHS has successfully followed participants with biennial questionnaires for data on incident disease and medical, reproductive, behavioral, psychosocial, and socioeconomic factors. Follow-up is also conducted through 24 cancer registries and the National Death Index. Participants' addresses have been linked to U.S. census data and to air pollution data. Cancer diagnoses are validated by pathology data from hospitals and cancer registries. A DNA biorepository was established through collection of cheek cell samples from 26,800 participants. Additionally, approximately 13,000 participants have provided blood samples and 700 have provided tumor tissue. The BWHS has published extensively on risk factors for breast cancer. The participants have reached the ages at which other cancers occur more commonly and sufficient cases of lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and colon adenomas are now available. The BWHS is continuing follow-up/data collection and establishing a repository of blood samples. The data/samples are shared in consortia projects. The assessment of serious nonmalignant illnesses in the BWHS enhances the value of this resource at no cost to the study of cancer.