Dr. Norman Boyd

Breast cancer epidemiology and screening

Dr. Boyd’s research interests are in cancer epidemiology including: the identification of risk factors for breast cancer, screening for breast cancer, mammography, histological and biochemical markers of breast cancer risk, diet and cancer, the methodology of dietary assessment, and clinical trials of dietary modification in high risk individuals.

His research focuses on developing breast cancer prevention strategies, and he has pioneered research in the new area of breast density and its impact as a breast cancer risk factor.

In collaboration with investigators at Reichmann Research Laboratories at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, novel methods of imaging are being used to characterize breast tissue and to associate the findings with risk of breast cancer. Individuals identified as being at different risks for cancer based upon these characterizations are contrasted according to several other attributes and have been found to differ in a number of respects. These include number of pregnancies, body weight and alcohol consumption, all factors that influence breast cancer risk, as well as high density lipoprotein cholesterol.

A multicentre randomized trial is now in progress in women with high risk mammographic changes. The trial tests the hypothesis that a 25% dietary reduction of calories from fat with isocaloric replacement of carbohydrate, will reduce the incidence of breast cancer by approximately 35% over 10 years. Additional studies will examine the effect of this dietary intervention on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and plasma sex hormones, all factors that may mediate environmental influences on risk of breast cancer.

He is a graduate of Guy's Hospital Medical School, University of London and studied clinical epidemiology at Yale University. He is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. In 1999, Dr. Boyd obtained a Distinguished Scientist Award from the Medical Research Council of Canada.  He is a recipient of the O. Harold Warwick Prize which recognizes research that has had a major impact on cancer control in Canada.
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