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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Delta Air Lines Award

Area(s) of Focus

Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD

Member (Professor)
Public Health Sciences Division
Member, Epidemiology
University of Washington
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, Washington

Current Research

Women who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for developing breast cancer after menopause. Overweight or obese women of any age with breast cancer have a poorer survival rate than normal weight women with breast cancer. Physical activity, on the other hand, is associated with reduced breast cancer risk and improved survival for women of all ages, but the reason for this is poorly understood. Over two-thirds of U.S. women are overweight or obese, and few are sufficiently active; therefore, discovering links between overweight/obesity, physical activity and cancer-related biomarkers has high potential for reducing breast cancer risk and improving survival. In the coming year, Dr. McTiernan will study whether weight loss effects can be sustained long-term, since individuals typically regain lost weight. To address this question, her team will measure several blood markers of breast cancer in overweight and obese postmenopausal women who participated in a 12-month weight loss intervention. They will compare levels of hormones, insulin, glucose, inflammatory molecules, and markers of blood vessel growth after initial weight loss and again 18 months after the intervention, when women are most likely to have regained at least some of the weightloss they initially achieved. If changes in breast cancer risk factors can be maintained even with some weight regain, it would suggest weight loss as an achievable breast cancer prevention method. The knowledge gained from these studies will help determine feasible lifestyle changes women can make to reduce risk for breast cancer and improve prognosis.


Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD is a Full Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Research Professor at the University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health in Seattle. Dr. McTiernan’s research focuses on identifying ways to prevent new or recurrent breast cancer with physical activity, obesity prevention and treatment, and chemoprevention. She is Principal Investigator of several clinical trials and cohort studies investigating the associations among exercise, diet, weight, hormones, chemoprevention agents, and risk for breast cancer incidence and prognosis. She was PI of the National Cancer Institute funded Seattle Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer program that investigated obesity prevention and mechanisms linking overweight, obesity and sedentary lifestyles with breast cancer.

Dr. McTiernan is an elected Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine, the Obesity Society, and the American College of Epidemiology. She has published more than 350 scientific manuscripts in major medical journals and is lead author of the book, Breast Fitness (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). She is editor of two academic texts: Cancer Prevention and Management through Exercise and Weight Control (CRC Press LLL, 2005) and Physical Activity, Dietary Calorie Restriction, and Cancer (Springer; 2010).  She has served on national and international health advisory boards and working groups including the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the American Cancer Society, the US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, the World Cancer Research Foundation, and the Komen for the Cure Scientific Advisory Council.