The natural history of cancers and dementias

One way to discover influences on disease development is by examining many people’s health histories. Drugs taken for other purposes may impact pre-cancerous tissue, which can manifest in altered rates of cancer among treated individuals. Famous examples include metformin, a diabetes drug which may reduce risk of cancer and is under investigation as a cancer therapy, and combination hormone replacement therapy, which was found to increase risk of breast cancer.

Similarly, some health conditions can increase risk of cancers or dementias, while others may decrease risk or result in better outcomes for patients.

We use medical records data and apply methods from epidemiology and causal inference in order to infer the effects of other diseases, common drugs, and combinations of these factors on cancer and dementia onset and outcomes.