Main Menu

Biography and research overview

Dr Minouk Schoemaker is a researcher funded by the charity Breast Cancer Now to conduct research into the causes of breast cancer. She specialises in risk factors for cancer including factors related to lifestyle, hormonal and reproductive factors and mammographic density.

Dr Schoemaker has a PhD in public health medicine, and Master’s degrees in radiation biology and medical statistics. Prior to joining The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in 2000 she worked at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Most of Minouk’s work is focussed on the Generations Study, a prospective study of over 110,000 women in the UK who completed questionnaires and provided blood samples. Breast cancer risk depends on many factors. Information on modifiable lifestyle and behavioural factors in particular would help women make informed decisions about their lifestyle and therefore potentially aid prevention.

Working with Professor Swerdlow’s team and other internal and external collaborators, Dr Schoemaker is conducting research using the vast amounts of data being collected by the study.

Minouk is co-leading the Premenopausal Breast Cancer Collaborative Group, an international collaboration of 22 cohort studies which aims to investigate risk factors for breast cancer in premenopausal women. Such pooling is necessary because individual studies often do not have sufficient numbers of young women to carry out such investigations on their own.

This Group has demonstrated that at premenopausal ages, there is a strong inverse gradient of breast cancer risk with body weight and also that there is a temporal rise in risk after pregnancy depending on a woman’s age and parity.

This work is facilitated by the US National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium and is in collaboration with Professor Anthony Swerdlow at the Institute of Cancer Research, Dr Hazel Nichols at the University of North Carolina and Professor Dale Sandler at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, US.