Large cities, and regions including the South and Southwest, contributed most to that percentage, Wactawski-Wende said. The Western New York contingent included 8% of people of color, which, while reflective of regional demographics a generation ago, is a percentage that researchers in the region hope will grow as future health studies try to clarify and address inequities in health care.
Meanwhile, the biologic samples and other data the Women’s Health Initiative has gathered will provide lessons for many years to come.
Researchers collected full lipid and cardiovascular panels on 50,000 of the women who participated, Wactawski-Wende said, and those can be evaluated for genetic markers that portend higher risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, or stroke.
The data already has been used to publish more than 2,000 studies, she said, and roughly the same number are still in the works.
“Dementia remains a big issue,” Wactawski-Wende said, “and on the positive side, thinking of the women who are the 100-year-olds, the 90-year-olds who are functioning well, we’re also interested in resilience.”
Researchers with a related Long Life Study took more data, measurements and blood samples during home visits nine years ago of more than 7,800 women involved with the initiative. They plan to do so again next year.