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Breakthrough Generations Study

This study is looking into the causes of breast cancer.

The large study called the Breakthrough Generations Study aims to find out what causes breast cancer. It was set up by Breakthrough Breast Cancer (now Breast Cancer Care) and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

Women living in the UK aged 16 years or over could volunteer to take part. It opened in September 2004 and has recruited over 113,000 women. This includes women of all ages and from all areas of the UK.

What the study involves

Women taking part in the study fill in a questionnaire about factors that can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, such as:

  • how many children they had and what age the women were at their births
  • whether or not they've taken the contraceptive pill and for how long
  • whether they've had breast disease
  • their age and weight
  • any family history of breast cancer
  • their diet and alcohol intake
  • whether they have reached the menopause and at what age
  • whether or not they've taken hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Women also give a blood sample. The researchers use the blood samples to look for any genes and hormonal factors that might influence the risk of developing breast cancer.

The research team contact women taking part in the trial every couple of years to ask about their general health. And the women fill out another questionnaire and give another blood sample. The researchers can then compare the factors affecting any women who go on to develop breast cancer with those who do not.

The study will last at least 40 years. The research team have already published many results from the study. You can see them on the below link to the Breakthrough Generations website. 

More information

You can read more about the study on the Breakthrough Generations Study website. There is also information about a similar study looking at causes of breast cancer in men.

Information and help