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Sisters Study Seeks Breast Cancer Answers

U.S. researchers will look at potential genetic, environmental causes

SUNDAY, April 9, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Elena M. Alvarado is one of the 1,171 women in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and North Virginia who have joined the national Sister Study, focused on how the environment and a woman's genes may affect her chances of getting breast cancer.

Alvarado, president and CEO of the National Latina Health Network, decided to join the study because her sister, Darlene, was diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago. Darlene is now cancer-free.

"Breast cancer is one of the most critical health concerns facing the Latina community today. I feel it's my responsibility to participate in the Sister Study and help educate other women about the benefits of participating in research," Alvarado said.

"My sister had to confront this disease at a time when very little research was being conducted on the national level. So now, I have the opportunity to be part of the Sister Study and help other young women take control of their own health and have a more promising future," she said.

The 10-year Sister Study, conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, will use questionnaires and samples from participants to determine how women's genes, along with things they're exposed to at home, work, and in the community, may influence their risk of breast cancer.

Researchers hope to enroll 50,000 volunteers for the study. Enrollment will continue through September 2007. Women in the United States or Puerto Rico, ages 35 to 74, may be eligible to join if their sisters have had breast cancer. Only women who have not had breast cancer themselves will be allowed to sign up for the study.

Women selected for the study will not have to take any medicine, won't be asked to visit a medical center, and will not be required to make any changes to their habits, diet, or daily life.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the Sister Study.

SOURCE: Sister Study Breast Cancer Research, news release, March 20, 2006
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