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Million Women Study

About the cohort

Start date: 1996-2001
Age at recruitment: 50-64
Sample size at recruitment: 1,360,000
Estimated current sample size: 1,240,000

The Million Women Study is the largest study of women's health in the world. In 1996-2001, a quarter of UK females then aged 50-64 years (1.3 million women) joined the study. Study participants have provided details about their lifestyle and health and given signed consent for follow-up. Since recruitment their health has been followed mainly through electronic linkage to routinely collected NHS records and they have been re-contacted 3 times (1999-03, 2006-7 & 2009-12)

The aim of the study is to provide reliable information on potentially modifiable causes of common and serious illnesses, to help improve individual and public health.

The study has described links between smoking, alcohol, obesity, and use of hormone replacement therapy and women's risk of developing various diseases, recently reporting that the harms of smoking and the benefits of stopping were greater in women than previously thought.

The current focus is for research on dementia, osteoporosis, stroke and other severe disabling conditions that become increasingly common as women age. With this large study, detailed lifestyle information provided by women, and some 15 years follow-up through linkage to NHS medical records, the study is uniquely placed to answer some major outstanding questions about what causes some of the serious conditions associated with ageing, and how they might be prevented.

Million Women Study is part of the Dementias Platform UK (DPUK), a multi-million pound public-private partnership to accelerate progress in dementias research

Core funders

  • Cancer Research UK
  • Medical Research Council



Principal Investigator: Professor Dame Valerie Beral 


The Million Women Study Co-ordinating Centre
Cancer Epidemiology Unit
Richard Doll Building
Roosevelt Drive
Oxford OX3 7LF


Tel: +44 (0)1865 289600

Page last updated: 13 Mar 2015


  • Gender: Female
  • Sample size: 500,000+
  • Age: 40 to 59, 60 to 100
  • Anthropometric: Height, Weight, Waist circumference, Hip circumference, Blood pressure
  • Physical: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Musculoskeletal, Reproductive
  • Psychological: Mental health, Cognitive function
  • Lifestyle: Smoking, Physical activity, Dietary habits, Alcohol
  • Socio-economic: Occupation, Family circumstances, Housing, Education, Ethnic group, Marital status, Social support
  • Biological samples: Blood