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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
3:30 pm to 4:50 pm
Health Sciences K-069

"Improving the Health of Aging Women: The Women's Health Initiative as a Population-based Laboratory for Epidemiologic Research"

Dr LaCroix


Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD, MPH

Professor, Epidemiology

Co-Project Director of the Clinical Coordinating Center for the Women's Health Initiative and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.


Andrea LaCroix just passed her 23rd anniversary as a faculty member in the Department of Epidemiology (since 1989) and her 16th anniversary at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  Dr. LaCroix is Professor of Epidemiology and Co-Principal Investigator of the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Coordinating Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.  She is also a Senior Scientific Investigator at the Group Health Research Institute and a Professor at the University of Washington.  She is Co-Principal Investigator of the Data Coordinating Center for the Menopausal Symptoms: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health (MsFLASH) clinical trials network, an NIA initiative to expedite the testing of new interventions for menopause symptoms.  She received her doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1984, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in 1985.  Before coming to Seattle, WA in 1989, Dr. LaCroix was a federal government epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics and then the National Institute on Aging.

Dr. LaCroix studies the prevention of cancer, fracture, heart disease, and disability in postmenopausal women through randomized clinical trials of pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and epidemiologic studies.  Dr. LaCroix has worked on evaluating the longterm effects of hormone therapy and calcium/Vitamin D supplementation on chronic disease outcomes within the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Trial programs since 1996.  She currently serves on the National Advisory Council on Aging for the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging.  In 2010, she received the McDougall Mentoring award which recognizes and honors faculty members who demonstrate an outstanding investment in their mentees’ professional development and success as independent researchers or clinical scientists. She has authored more than 200 scientific publications.


     US Census data indicate that 37.8 million Americans are ages 65 and older (21.5 million women vs. 16.3 million men). (US Census Stat Abstract)  Beginning in 2011, the aging population in America has entered a period of rapid expansion fueled by the 76 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 who have begun to reach the age of 65.  By the year 2030, a mere 19 years from now, 70 million people, or 1 in 5 Americans, will have reached their 65th birthday.(Rice, 2004) Women live longer than men and both sexes have greater longevity now than ever. 
LaCroix     How do these demographic changes affect the nation’s public health?  The good news for women, as shown in Figure 1, is that women have longer healthy life expectancies than men. But the bad news is that women also can expect to live more years disabled or institutionalized.  At every age over 65, women’s disabled life expectancy is doubled that of men and their institutionalized life expectancy is 3-4 fold longer than older men.(Manton, 1997)  Healthcare spending is 17-37% higher for older women than men, even after adjusting for differences in longevity.(Spillman, 2000)  Medicare expenditures are 7-23% higher and nursing home expenditures are 60-100% higher for women than men.(Spillman, 2000)  Long term care expenditures doubled between 1990 and 2001 reaching $132 billion and public financing of long term care is projected to increase 20-21% by 2020.(MMWR, 2003)  Among Americans, mobility disability increased between 1998 and 2006 with higher prevalence among women than men in every age group (Crimmins, 2010).  The aging of the US population dictates that we must prepare to meet the healthcare needs of many older people, especially women.
     In this seminar, Dr. LaCroix will describe the Women’s Health Initiative data resource as an established cohort study of older women that can be used to explore numerous questions related to healthy aging, exceptional longevity and other phenotypes relevant to improving the health of aging women.  Specific topics to be discussed include:  1) the design and major data elements of the WHI cohort; 2) highlights of recent findings using various epidemiologic designs (nested case-control, case-cohort, extended follow-up of clinical trial interventions; and 3) approaches to creatively defining aging phenotypes to inform public health strategies for this growing population.

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Updated on November 19, 2012