Julie R Palmer's research while affiliated with Boston University and other places

Publications (527)

Article
Background Compared to women of other races who have never smoked, Black women have a higher risk of lung cancer. Whether neighborhood disadvantage, which Black women experience at higher rates than other women, is linked to never-smoking lung cancer risk remains unclear. This study investigates the association of neighborhood disadvantage and lung...
Article
Background Epidemiological studies suggest that coffee consumption may be inversely associated with risk of endometrial cancer (EC), the most common gynecological malignancy in developed countries. Furthermore, coffee consumption may lower circulating levels of estrogen and insulin, hormones implicated in endometrial carcinogenesis. Antioxidants an...
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Background The use of archived formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor tissues has become a common practice in clinical and epidemiologic genetic research. Simultaneous extraction of DNA and RNA from FFPE tissues is appealing but can be practically challenging. Here we report our results and lessons learned from processing FFPE breast tumor t...
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Purpose Compared to white women, Black women have increased risk of developing hypertensive diseases of pregnancy (HDOP) and have a higher incidence of aggressive breast cancer subtypes. Few studies of HDOP and breast cancer risk have included large numbers of Black women. This study examined the relation of HDOP to incidence of breast cancer overa...
Article
Women who develop breast cancer less than 10 years after giving birth have been shown to have a poorer prognosis than women with a longer time since their last birth. Only a few studies have examined this relation separately by molecular features of the tumor; two observed poorer outcomes for women with hormone receptor positive tumors. A better un...
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Prospective studies on the association between depression and telomere length have produced mixed results and have been largely limited to European ancestry populations. We examined the associations between depression and telomere length, and the modifying influence of religion and spirituality, in four cohorts, each representing a different race/e...
Article
Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) are useful for predicting breast cancer risk, but the prediction accuracy of existing PRSs in women of African ancestry (AA) remains relatively low. We aim to develop optimal PRSs for prediction of overall and estrogen receptor (ER) subtype-specific breast cancer risk in AA women. The AA dataset comprised 9235 cases and...
Article
Background: Currently known associations between common genetic variants and colorectal cancer explain less than half of its heritability of 25%. As alcohol consumption has a J-shape association with colorectal cancer risk, nondrinking and heavy drinking are both risk factors for colorectal cancer. Methods: Individual-level data was pooled from...
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Purpose Studies conducted primarily among European ancestry women reported 12 breast cancer predisposition genes. However, etiologic roles of these genes in breast cancer among African ancestry women have been less well-investigated. Methods We conducted a case-control study in African American women, which included 1117 breast cancer cases and 21...
Article
Background: Currently known associations between common genetic variants and colorectal cancer (CRC) explain less than half of its heritability of 25%. As alcohol consumption has a Jshape association with CRC risk, non-drinking and heavy drinking are both risk factors for CRC. Methods: Individual-level data was pooled from Colon Cancer Family Regis...
Article
Importance: Screening mammography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are recommended for women with ATM, CHEK2, and PALB2 pathogenic variants. However, there are few data to guide screening regimens for these women. Objective: To estimate the benefits and harms of breast cancer screening strategies using mammography and MRI at various start ag...
Article
The American Journal of Epidemiology has been a platform for findings from the Black Women’s Health Study relevant to health disparities. Topics addressed have included methods of follow-up of a large cohort of Black women, disparities in health care delivery, modifiable risk factors for health conditions that disproportionately affect Black women,...
Article
Prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and being born with low birth weight are much higher in African American women compared to U.S. white women. Genetic factors may contribute to the excess risk of these conditions. We conducted admixture mapping of body mass index (BMI) at age 18, adult BMI, and adult waist circumference and waist-to-hip...
Article
While excess weight is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer, consideration of maximum body mass index (maxBMI) or BMI at a point in time relevant for breast carcinogenesis may offer new insights. We prospectively evaluated maxBMI and time-dependent BMI in relation to breast cancer incidence among 31,028 postmenopausal women i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) are useful to predict breast cancer risk, but the prediction accuracy of existing PRSs in women of African ancestry (AA) remain relatively low. We aim to develop optimal PRSs for prediction of overall and estrogen receptor (ER) subtype-specific breast cancer risk in women of African ancestry. The AA dataset comprised 9,...
Article
Background Black Americans have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) of any racial/ethnic group in the US. High intake of red and processed meats has been associated with an increased CRC risk in predominately White populations. However, three prior studies in Black populations, who have been reported to have high intake of red and proc...
Article
The 2021 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) lung cancer screening guidelines¹ have increased the number of smokers eligible for screening by lowering the age eligibility from 55 to 50 years and reducing the requisite pack-years of smoking from 30 to 20. While these changes should increase the proportion of Black individuals eligible for scr...
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Background Research on psychosocial stress and risk of breast cancer has produced conflicting results. Few studies have assessed this relation by breast cancer subtype or specifically among Black women, who experience unique chronic stressors. Methods We used prospective data from the Black Women’s Health Study, an ongoing cohort study of 59,000 U...
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Background: Few epigenetics studies have been conducted within the Black community to examine the impact of diverse psychosocial stressors and resources for resiliency on the stress pathway (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis). Methods: Among 1000 participants from the Black Women's Health Study, associations between ten psychosocial stressors and...
Article
PURPOSE To determine the contribution of germline pathogenic variants (PVs) in hereditary cancer testing panel genes to invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) of the breast. MATERIALS AND METHODS The study included 2,999 women with ILC from a population-based cohort and 3,796 women with ILC undergoing clinical multigene panel testing (clinical cohort)....
Article
Purpose: Breast cancer risk prediction models are used to identify high-risk women for early detection, targeted interventions, and enrollment into prevention trials. We sought to develop and evaluate a risk prediction model for breast cancer in US Black women, suitable for use in primary care settings. Methods: Breast cancer relative risks and...
Article
Background: Observational studies, mostly among White populations, suggest that low vitamin D levels increase colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. African Americans, who are disproportionately burdened by CRC, often have lower vitamin D levels compared to other populations. Methods: We assessed predicted vitamin D score in relation to CRC among 49,534...
Article
African Americans have the highest pancreatic cancer incidence of any racial/ethnic group in the United States. The oral microbiome was associated with pancreatic cancer risk in a recent study, but no such studies have been conducted in African Americans. Poor oral health, which can be a cause or effect of microbial populations, was associated with...
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Single germline nucleotide pathogenic variants have been identified in 12 breast cancer predisposition genes, but structural deletions in these genes remain poorly characterized. We conducted in-depth whole genome sequencing (WGS) in genomic DNA samples obtained from 1340 invasive breast cancer cases and 675 controls of African ancestry. We identif...
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Background Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence rates have increased in younger individuals worldwide. We examined the most recent early- and late-onset CRC rates for the US. Methods Age-standardized incidence rates (ASIR, per 100,000) of CRC were calculated using the US Cancer Statistics Database’s high-quality population-based cancer registry data...
Article
Background Studies in women of European descent showed an inverse association of dietary vitamin A (retinol and carotenoids) intake with breast cancer risks, mainly in premenopausal women. Objectives We examined whether higher compared with lower levels of dietary vitamin A are associated with reduced breast cancer risks among Black women by estro...
Article
Background The history of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has been associated with breast cancer risk in some studies, particularly in young women, but results of cohort studies are conflicting. Methods We pooled data from 257 290 young (age <55 years) women from five cohorts. We used multivariable Cox proportional-hazards regression to estima...
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Background: There is limited prior investigation of the combined influence of personal and community-level socioeconomic factors on racial/ethnic disparities in individual risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis nested within a prospective cohort of 2,102,364 participants from March 29, 2020...
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Objective Limited evidence suggests that higher levels of serum vitamin D (25(OH)D) protect against SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) infection. Black women commonly experience 25(OH)D insufficiency and are overrepresented among COVID-19 cases. We conducted a prospective analysis of serum 25(OH)D levels in relation to COVID-19 infection among participant...
Article
Purpose: The prevalence of germline pathogenic variants (PVs) in established breast cancer predisposition genes in women in the general population over age 65 years is not well-defined. However, testing guidelines suggest that women diagnosed with breast cancer over age 65 years might have < 2.5% likelihood of a PV in a high-penetrance gene. This...
Article
Background: The influence of prenatal Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure on cancer incidence among middle-aged men has not been well-characterized. We investigated whether exposure to DES before birth impacts overall cancer risk, and risk of site-specific cancers. Methods: Men (mean age in 2016 = 62.0 years) who were or were not prenatally DES-ex...
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Our study describes breast cancer risk loci using a cross-ancestry GWAS approach. We first identify variants that are associated with breast cancer at P < 0.05 from African ancestry GWAS meta-analysis (9241 cases and 10193 controls), then meta-analyze with European ancestry GWAS data (122977 cases and 105974 controls) from the Breast Cancer Associa...
Article
In humans, parity without breastfeeding increases risk of estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer and is associated with hypermethylation of FOXA1, a pioneer factor regulating lineage commitment of mammary gland luminal progenitor cells. We postulate that pregnancy-associated repression of FOXA1 results in the accumulation of aberrant, diffe...
Article
PURPOSE This study assessed the joint association of pathogenic variants (PVs) in breast cancer (BC) predisposition genes and polygenic risk scores (PRS) with BC in the general population. METHODS A total of 26,798 non-Hispanic white BC cases and 26,127 controls from predominately population-based studies in the Cancer Risk Estimates Related to Su...
Article
Objectives African Americans have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC) of any racial/ethnic group in the US. High intake of red and processed meats has been shown to increase CRC risk in populations of European ancestry, but evidence in African American populations is limited. The association between saturated and monounsaturated fatty...
Article
Importance The prevalence of germline pathogenic variants (PVs) in cancer susceptibility genes in US Black women compared with non-Hispanic White women with breast cancer is poorly described. Objective To determine whether US Black and non-Hispanic White women with breast cancer have a different prevalence of PVs in 12 cancer susceptibility genes....
Article
Hair relaxers and leave-in conditioners and oils, commonly used by Black/African American women, may contain estrogens or estrogen-disrupting compounds. Thus, their use may contribute to breast cancer risk. Results of the few previous studies on this topic are inconsistent. We assessed the relation of hair relaxer and leave-in conditioner use to br...
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Background Epidemiologic studies examining the relations between dairy product and calcium intakes and breast cancer have been inconclusive, especially for tumor subtypes. Objective To evaluate the associations between intakes of specific dairy products and calcium and risk of breast cancer overall and for subtypes defined by estrogen receptor (ER...
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Background Polygenic risk scores (PRS) have been demonstrated to identify women of European, Asian and Latino ancestry at elevated risk of developing breast cancer (BC). We evaluated the performance of existing PRSs trained in European ancestry populations among women of African ancestry. Methods We assembled genotype data for women of African anc...
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Social scientists have increasingly recognized the lack of diversity in survey research on American religion, resulting in a dearth of data on religion and spirituality (R/S) in understudied racial and ethnic groups. At the same time, epidemiological studies have increasingly diversified their racial and ethnic representation, but have collected fe...
Article
Objective To investigate the association of early life abuse with sleep disruption risk in adulthood among U.S. Black women. Methods We analyzed data from the Black Women’s Health Study, a prospective cohort study. In 2005, 29,998 women completed a self-administered questionnaire on early-life experiences of abuse (child and teen) and exposure to...
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Although many loci have been associated with height in European ancestry populations, very few have been identified in African ancestry individuals. Furthermore, many of the known loci have yet to be generalized to and fine-mapped within a large-scale African ancestry sample. We performed sex-combined and sex-stratified meta-analyses in up to 52,76...
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This paper describes the development and initial psychometric testing of the baseline Spirituality Survey (SS-1) from the Study on Stress, Spirituality, and Health (SSSH). The SS-1 contains a mixture of items selected from validated existing scales and new items generated to measure important constructs not captured by existing instruments, and our...
Article
Breast cancer survivors have a high risk of a second primary contralateral breast cancer (CBC), but there are few studies of CBC risk in minority populations. We examined whether the incidence and risk factors for CBC differed by race/ethnicity in the United States. Women with a first invasive stage I‐IIB breast cancer diagnosis at ages 20‐74 years...
Article
Background Population-based estimates of the risk of breast cancer associated with germline pathogenic variants in cancer-predisposition genes are critically needed for risk assessment and management in women with inherited pathogenic variants. Methods In a population-based case–control study, we performed sequencing using a custom multigene ampli...
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Purpose: Circulating anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) levels are positively associated with time to menopause and breast cancer risk. We examined breast cancer associations with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the AMH gene or its receptor genes, ACVR1 and AMHR2, among African American women. Methods: In the AMBER consortium, we tested 65 c...
Conference Paper
Background Psychosocial stress has been linked to adverse health outcomes, including cancer. However, prior studies have not consistently demonstrated an association between psychosocial stress and risk of breast cancer. Further investigation is needed to help elucidate the relation, especially among Black women, who experience some unique stressor...
Conference Paper
Background. Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence rates have increased in younger individuals worldwide. A recent US study reported increases among both non- Hispanic whites (NHW) and non-Hispanic blacks (NHB), but did not consider other racial/ethnic groups. Thus, we examined the most recent CRC rates for the US by age, race/ethnicity, and anatomic lo...
Article
Background Air pollution contains numerous carcinogens and endocrine disruptors which may be relevant for breast cancer. Previous research has predominantly been conducted in White women; however, Black women may have higher air pollution exposure due to geographic and residential factors. Objective We evaluated the association between air polluti...
Article
A full‐term pregnancy is associated with reduced endometrial cancer risk; however, whether the effect of additional pregnancies is independent of age at last pregnancy is unknown. The associations between other pregnancy‐related factors and endometrial cancer risk are less clear. We pooled individual participant data from 11 cohort and 19 case‐cont...
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Introduction We examined whether abuse in childhood and/or adolescence was associated with shorter telomere length in a pooled analysis of 3,232 participants from five diverse cohorts. We also assessed whether religion or spirituality (R/S) could buffer deleterious effects of abuse. Methods Physical and sexual abuse in childhood (age <12) and adol...
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Prenatal diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure is associated with increased risk of hormonally mediated cancers and other medical conditions. We evaluated the association between DES and risk of pancreatic cancer and pancreatic disorders, type 2 diabetes, and gallbladder disease, which may be involved with this malignancy. Our analyses used follow-up d...
Article
Background: Evidence suggests etiologic heterogeneity among breast cancer subtypes. Previous studies with six-marker IHC classification of intrinsic subtypes included small numbers of black women. Methods: Using centralized laboratory results for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor, HER2, proliferation marker, Ki-67, EGFR, and cytokera...
Article
Background: Red meat is a rich source of nutrients but is typically high in saturated fats. Carcinogenic chemicals can be formed during cooking and processing. Little is known about the relation of red meat consumption to mortality in African Americans (AAs), a group with excess mortality and high consumption of red meat relative to whites. Objec...
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There are well-established disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes by race/ethnicity that result from the interplay between structural, socioeconomic, socio-environmental, behavioural and biological factors. However, large research studies designed to investigate factors contributing to cancer aetiology and progression have mainly focused on p...
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Background: Use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has been hypothesized to be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer; however, results of epidemiological studies have been mixed. Few studies have investigated these associations among African American women. Methods: To assess the relation of aspirin use t...
Article
Introduction African American women have a life expectancy 2.7 years shorter than that of white women and are less likely than white women to meet national physical activity guidelines. Physical activity has been found to reduce mortality, but evidence concerning African American women is limited. Methods In the Black Women's Health Study, a prosp...
Conference Paper
Background: Over 180 genetic variants have been identified as risk loci for breast cancer. However, most loci were discovered using European ancestry populations. As some common susceptibility loci are shared across populations, we aim to discover new risk loci for breast cancer using a cross-ancestry genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach....
Conference Paper
Background: A polygenic risk score (PRS) for breast cancer including 313 common variants developed by the Breast Cancer Association Consortium (BCAC) has been demonstrated to identify women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer [odds ratio (OR 95%CI) = 1.61 (1.57-1.65) per SD] in women of European ancestry. In the present study, we exami...
Conference Paper
Background: To date, most genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of breast cancer have been conducted only among women of Asian and European ancestry. It is difficult to generalize results from those studies to women of African ancestry (AA). We conducted a large genetic association study of breast cancer in women of AA by analyzing both genetic an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Structural deletions in breast cancer susceptibility genes could confer to cancer risk, but remain poorly characterized. Here, we conducted in-depth whole genome sequencing (WGS) in germline DNA samples from 1,340 invasive breast cancer cases and 675 controls of African ancestry to discover such deletions. We identified 33 deletions, including five...
Article
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Background Data for front-line health-care workers and risk of COVID-19 are limited. We sought to assess risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers compared with the general community and the effect of personal protective equipment (PPE) on risk. Methods We did a prospective, observational cohort study in the UK and the USA of the gener...
Article
Background: African Americans have the highest incidence of pancreatic cancer of any racial/ethnic group in the US. There is evidence that consumption of red or processed meat and foods containing saturated fats may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, but there is limited evidence in African Americans. Methods: Utilizing the Black Women's He...
Article
Background: We estimated the association between night shift work and fecundability among African American women. Methods: Black Women's Health Study participants (n = 560) aged 30-45 years reported their history of night shift work in 2005. Time to pregnancy for all pregnancies resulting in a livebirth was reported in 2011. We estimated the fecun...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Racial and ethnic minorities have disproportionately high hospitalization rates and mortality related to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). There are comparatively scant data on race and ethnicity as determinants of infection risk. Methods We used a smartphone application (beginning March 24, 2020 in the United Kingdom [U.K.]...
Article
Background: Yogurt consumption and low-fat dairy consumption have been associated with reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in some studies. Objective: We assessed the relation of yogurt and other dairy consumption to incidence of T2D in black women, a population group with a disproportionately high incidence of T2D. Methods: The Black W...
Conference Paper
Background: Under-representation of minority populations in research utilizing biospecimens can prohibit advancements in cancer research, treatment and survivorship from reaching those who are most vulnerable, potentially increasing cancer health disparities. Barriers and facilitators to biospecimen provision among under-represented populations are...
Conference Paper
Background: Women who have at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer have an almost two-fold risk of developing breast cancer themselves. Therefore, there is particular interest in identifying modifiable factors that can reduce risk. To date, most studies of breast cancer risk in women with a family history of breast cancer ha...
Conference Paper
Introduction: The prevalence of obesity is high in African American (AA) women. Excess weight is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer (and inversely associated with premenopausal breast cancer), but studies of recent body mass index (BMI) in AA women have shown relatively modest associations. The use of maximum BMI attained d...