HEALTH 2020 data collected decades ago is yielding useful results – in ways we couldn't have foreseen. Modern technology enables participants’ DNA samples to be analysed to find genetic markers for diseases, and help develop future models to detect cancer risks in all people.
Dr Harindra Jayasekara has been working on understanding the links between drinking alcohol and the risk of cancer. Using the HEALTH 2020's unique data of lifetime alcohol consumption to study breast cancer risk, Dr Jayasekara and his colleagues have found that a woman who drinks alcohol in the years between her first monthly period and her first full-term pregnancy is at greater lifetime risk of breast cancer than a non-drinker.
Using HEALTH 2020 data, Dr Alexander Rodriguez has found a possible link between low skeletal muscle mass and abdominal aortic calcification (AAC), a hardening of heart blood vessels that is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Maintaining muscle mass, and being physically active, can help reduce AAC and the associated cardiovascular risk.
Hundreds of scientific papers have been published using data from Health 2020 participants. A large proportion of this research has involved research collaborators from across Australia and around the world.