The Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) was established by Dr. Walter Willett and colleagues in 1989 with funding from the National Institutes of Health to study oral contraceptives, diet, and lifestyle risk factors in a population younger than the original NHS cohort.
Why a new cohort of nurses?
This younger generation of nurses included women who started using oral contraceptives during adolescence and were thus maximally exposed during their early reproductive life. Several case-control studies suggesting such exposures might be associated with substantial increases in breast cancer risk provided a particularly strong justification for investment in this large cohort. Researchers also planned to collect detailed information on the types of oral contraceptives used, which was not obtained in the Nurses’ Health Study.
In addition, NHS II obtained information on physical activity and diet in adolescence and early adult life.