Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology

Project title: Interaction between reproductive and epigenetic aging on breast cancer risk

Steve Horvath, PhD, ScD – UCLA
Andrea LaCroix, PhD – UCSD
Roshan Bastani, PhD – UCLA
Patricia Ganz, MD – UCLA

Multidisciplinary Expertise:
Epigenetic regulation, aging, women’s health, breast cancer, epidemiology, biostatistics

Project Description:
Biological age is a modifiable predictor of health influenced by behaviors and exposures across the life course. Epigenetic modifications can provide a cellular memory of these forces, and program long-term physiological alterations through stable shifts in gene regulation. Accordingly, specific patterns of epigenetic variation have been used to predict biological age (i.e. epigenetic age). Accelerated epigenetic age relative to chronological age (AgeAccel) has been robustly associated with increased total cancer risk and all-cause mortality. We postulate that a comprehensive understanding of the predictors of AgeAccel, including its connection to the reproductive aging process, has the capacity to improve postmenopausal breast cancer risk prediction models. We plan to characterize the association between AgeAccel and reproductive history, endogenous hormone levels, and health behaviors. Based on these systematic analyses, we will appraise the ability of AgeAccel to identify women at high risk for postmenopausal breast cancer more accurately than currently known risk factors.