Data collected from large prospective cohorts provides a fantastic resource to enable research into cancer risk assessment, prevention, early detection and disease management. Three such cohorts – the Million Women Study, the China Kadoorie Biobank and the UK Biobank - have leadership in Oxford. Together they comprise over two million participants from diverse populations across the UK and China, collecting a range of information such as environmental exposures, genetic and imaging data.
Professors Gill Reeves, Zhengming Chen and David Hunter (Nuffield Department of Population Health) have successfully applied to Cancer Research UK for funds to bring together research using these cohorts. This new programme of research aims to investigate risk factors, such as weight, exercise and diet, and existing health conditions that may influence cancer development and detection. Of note, infection-associated cancers such as liver and stomach cancer are more prevalent in Chinese populations; new measurements of infection history in a subset of the China Kadoorie Biobank will allow the link between infection and cancer to be studied further. The underlying mechanisms and potential gene-environment interactions for any causal associations discovered will also be investigated using available biomarker and genetic data. Further, in the Million Women Study, the predictive value for breast cancer of several features from mammographic images will be assessed.
This research aims to advance the accuracy of risk assessment to enhance strategies for cancer prevention and early detection through targeted screening.