Polish Women's Health Study looks at the effect of changes in diet and other factors on breast cancer risk of women immigrants from Poland to the United States. (acronym ZDROWIE PLUS)

For more information email Dr. Dorothy Rybaczyk Pathak at or Dorota Mikucka at or call toll free (877)-863-6062.  You may also contact our Regional Coordinator for Illinois, Dorota Błaszczyk, at (630)-428-0203.

Polish women experience a breast cancer incidence one third that of U.S. women.  Yet, recent studies of Polish immigrants to the West showed breast cancer mortality rates for immigrants similar to the rates of the host country.  No other population of migrants has shown so rapid a transition.  The short time needed to express this changing risk for breast cancer implicates modifiable environmental factors as significant determinants of risk. We are conducting two parallel, population-based case control studies of 20-79 years old incident breast cancer cases in two populations: (1) Polish-born Immigrants, (Cook County and Detroit Metropolitan Area) and (2) Polish Natives, (Gliwice, Katowice, Poznań, Białystok).

Many lifestyle and environmental factors change as women move from one country to another.  We hypothesize that components of both usual and past diet, change in physical activity and obesity, as well as other environmental factors will be associated with increased risk of breast cancer among Polish migrant women. Specifically we will be evaluating if breast cancer risk is increased by: (1) reduction in intake of certain types of vegetables, whole grain breads and other cereals, and thus: (2) reduction in intake of certain phytochemicals and dietary fiber; and ( 3) increase in intake of meat and dietary fat; and  (4) interaction among the dietary constituents in 1-3 above. This study brings together research in nutrition, epidemiology, and changes in risks due to migration in strategically selected populations with 3 fold difference in breast cancer mortality in order to develop understanding of the nutritional and other environmental risk factors and their implications in breast cancer etiology. This study provides a unique opportunity for Polish Women to contribute to understanding of the role specific foods and phytochemicals play in lowering breast cancer risk, with clear implications for breast cancer prevention.

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Principal Investigator
Dorothy Rybaczyk Pathak, PhD, MS
Michigan State University
Department of Epidemiology

Research Assistant
Dorota Mikucka, MS
Michigan State University
Department of Epidemiology

Regional Coordinator for Illinois
Dorota Błaszczyk, MS
Naperville, Illinois

Regional Coordinator for Detroit, Michigan
Ann Bankowski, MS
Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University, MI

Collaborators in the U.S.
lMichigan State University
Mary Noel, Ph.D., MPH, RD
lInstitute for Public Policy and Social Research at MSU
Larry Hembroff, Ph.D
lEmory University, Atlanta, GA
Aryeh D. Stein, Ph.D, MPH
lIllinois Department of Public Health, Springfield, IL
Tiefu Shen, Ph.D, MD
lKarmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University, MI
Dorothy A. Nelson, Ph.D.
lNational Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, IL
Mary Hess, Ph.D. and Ellen Kaplowitz, Ph.D.
lCollaborators in Poland
lNational Food and Nutrition Institute, Warsaw
Jadwiga Charzewska, Ph.D.
lGliwice Institute of Oncology
Bruno Zemła, M.D.
lKatowice Medical School
Anna Kozaczka, M.D.
lPoznan Institute of Oncology
Maria Kubaszewska, M.D.
lPoznan Center for Prevention and Epidemiology of Cancers
Dariusz Godlewski, M.D.
lBialystok Institute of Oncology
Piotr Żurawski, M.D.