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Meir J. Stampfer, MD, Dr.PH

Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition
Department of Epidemiology, Chair
Harvard School of Public Health

Brigham and Women's Hospital

Research Interests

Dr.Stampfer’s research program is broadly concerned with the etiology of chronic diseases, with particular focus on nutrition, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. With colleagues in the Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, and at Channing Laboratory and the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dr Stampfer is closely involved in four large prospective cohort studies: Nurses’ Health Study II (N = 121,700), Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (N = 51,259), Physicians’ Health Studies I and II (N = 22,071), and Nurses’ Health Study II (N = 116,678). In each of these studies, participants are surveyed every two years to gather information on diet, smoking, physical activity, medications, health screening behavior, and other variables. We also ascertain the new occurrence of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other serious illnesses, including diabetes, fractures, kidney stones, and pre-cancerous lesions. In addition, Dr Stampfer leads seven NIH-funded projects to assess nutritional and biochemical markers of cancer risk among the 15,000 blood samples collected as part of the Physicians’ Health Study. In his work in the cohort studies, he directs grants addressing the causes of prostate cancer and colon cancer. Dr Stampfer and colleagues have demonstrated a marked protective effect, both in women and men, of alcohol in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. In women, however, alcohol appears to be associated with an increase in risk of breast cancer, but this may be mitigated by dietary folate. Recent analyses have shown women who adhere to five simple guidelines (no smoking, not obese, physically active, consume moderate alcohol, and have a good diet) are at 80% lower risk for coronary disease. Analyses of the Physicians’ Health Study blood samples have yielded some surprising results: insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) emerged as the most powerful risk factor for prostate cancer yet identified; it is also strongly linked to colon cancer risk. All of these large-scale studies are continuing.

Selected Publications

Rimm EB, Williams P, Fosher K, Criqui M, Stampfer MJ. Moderate alcohol intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease: meta-analysis of effects on lipids and haemostatic factors. BMJ. 1999 Dec 11;319(7224):1523-8. [abstract]

Ma J, Stampfer MJ, Christensen B, Giovannucci E, Hunter DJ, Chen J, Willett WC, Selhub J, Hennekens CH, Gravel R, Rozen R. A polymorphism of the methionine synthase gene: association with plasma folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine, and colorectal cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 Sep;8(9):825-9. [abstract]

Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Supplemental vitamin E intake and prostate cancer risk in a large cohort of men in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 Oct;8(10):893-9. [abstract]

Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Willett WC. The primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med. 2000 Jul 6;343(1):16-22. [abstract]

Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Hu FB, Franz M, Hennekens CH, Willett WC. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1455-61. [abstract]

Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Trends in the incidence of coronary heart disease and changes in diet, and lifestyle in women. N Engl J Med. 2000 Aug 24;343(8):530-7. [abstract]

Hines LM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Gaziano JM, Ridker PM, Hankinson SE, Sacks FM, Rimm EB, Hunter DJ. Genetic variation in alcohol dehydrogenase and the beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption on myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2001 Feb 22;344(8):549-55. [abstract]

Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Gann P, Ajani U, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Oct;74(4):549-54. [abstract]

Tanasescu M, Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Exercise type and intensity in relation to coronary heart disease in men. JAMA. 2002 Oct 23-30;288(16):1994-2000. [abstract]

Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Liu Y, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of tomato products, lycopene, and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002 Mar 6;94(5):391-8. [abstract]

Liu S, Ma J, Ridker PM, Breslow JL, Stampfer MJ. A prospective study of association between APOE genotype and the risk of myocardial infarction among apparently healthy men. Atherosclerosis. 2003 Feb;166(2):323-9. [abstract]