Anne McTiernan

Research Professor, Epidemiology
Adjunct Research Professor, Medicine - Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine



MD Internal Medicine, New York Medical College, 1989
PhD Epidemiology, University of Washington, 1982
BA Sociology, Boston University, 1974



Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Box 358080
1100 Fairview Ave N., M4-B874
PO Box 19024
Seattle, WA 98109


Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD is a Full Member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Research Professor at the University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Her research focuses on diet, obesity, exercise, and risk for cancer development and prognosis. She was Principal Investigator of the NCI-funded Seattle Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer program that investigated mechanisms linking obesity and sedentary lifestyles with cancer. She has received research funding from the NIH, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and other organizations. She is an elected Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine and the Obesity Society. She has published more than 400 scientific manuscripts, is lead author of the book, "Breast Fitness" (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), and editor of "Cancer Prevention and Management through Exercise and Weight Control" (CRC Press LLL, 2005) and "Physical Activity, Dietary Calorie Restriction, and Cancer" (Springer; 2010). She has served on several advisory committees including the World Cancer Research Fund expert panel, the 2008 and 2018 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committees, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the American Cancer Society. Dr. McTiernan’s memoir is, "Starved: A Nutrition Doctor’s Journey from Empty to Full" (Central Recovery Press, November 2016).

Research Interests

Dr. McTiernan's research focuses on identifying ways to prevent new or recurrent cancer with a particular focus on weight control, physical activity, and chemoprevention.

Dr. McTiernan was Principal Investigator of an NCI-funded randomized controlled clinical trial that tested dietary weight loss, exercise, and both vs. controls on breast cancer biomarkers in 439 postmenopausal women. With additional NIH funding, ancillary studies tested the effects of these interventions on telomere length, oxidative stress, angiogenesis, ghrelin, adipose tissue biology, long-term weight maintenance, long-term weight loss effects on cancer biomarkers, and behaviors predicting weight loss. She was Principal Investigator of the Seattle site of the NCI-funded Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle (HEAL) cohort, which is assessing associations of anthropometrics, body composition, hormones, diet, and physical activity with breast cancer prognosis. Dr. McTiernan was Principal Investigator of the Seattle site of the NCIC (Canada) ExCel trial, which tested the effect of exemestane, an aromatase inhibitor, on breast cancer prevention. She was also Principal Investigator of the Komen-funded ViDA randomized controlled trial that tested the effects of vitamin D vs. placebo on weight and breast cancer biomarkers in women undergoing a weight loss program.

Dr. McTiernan is honored to receive funding each year from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, to explore the effects of weight loss and vitamin D on various biomarkers of breast cancer. The 2017-18 grant is funding research on weight loss effect on microRNA related to obesity and breast cancer. She also has NIH funding to determine the effects of exercise on colon crypt cell DNA methylation. Currently, Dr. McTiernan also collaborates with several trials testing exercise effects in cancer survivors, including breast, prostate, and head and neck cancer survivors.

Previously, she has conducted a randomized trial of a one-year aerobic exercise intervention vs. control in 173 postmenopausal women to assess the effect of exercise on breast cancer biomarkers including sex hormones. Ancillary studies tested the effect of aerobic exercise on immune function and other biomarkers of breast cancer risk. She was Principal Investigator of the NCI-funded U54 grant (Seattle TREC Center) investigating mechanisms of energy balance and cancer prevention which included five projects and five supporting administrative cores. She led a randomized clinical trial testing aspirin effect on breast cancer biomarkers. She was Principal Investigator of a randomized trial to test the effect of a one-year aerobic exercise intervention vs. control on colorectal cell proliferation, apoptosis, and prostaglandin content, and on other biomarkers of colon cancer risk in 200 men and women. Dr. McTiernan was a co-Investigator in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), and directed clinical outcomes efforts at the WHI Clinical Coordinating Center.

Dr. McTiernan was a member of the 2008 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, and is a member of the 2018 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. She is a member of the advisory committee to the World Cancer Research Fund for their work on diet, obesity, physical activity, and cancer risk and survival. From 2010-2012 she was a Komen Scholar, and in 2012 she received a Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine for her research contributions on physical activity and health.

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Weight loss reduces circulating micro-RNA related to obesity and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
(2022 Aug 8)
Duggan C, Tapsoba JD, Scheel J, Wang CY, McTiernan A

Survival after high-dose chemotherapy for refractory and recurrent Ewing sarcoma.
(2022 Jul)
Eur J Cancer 170(): 131-139
Windsor R, Hamilton A, McTiernan A, Dileo P, Michelagnoli M, Seddon B, Strauss SJ, Whelan J

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, prostate cancer risk, treatment, and survival. The PROCA-life study.
(2022 Feb)
Cancer Med 11(4): 1005-1015
Stikbakke E, Schirmer H, Knutsen T, Støyten M, Wilsgaard T, Giovannucci EL, McTiernan A, Eggen AE, Haugnes HS, Richardsen E, Thune I

Exploring the impact of exercise and mind-body prehabilitation interventions on physical and psychological outcomes in women undergoing breast cancer surgery.
(2022 Mar)
Support Care Cancer 30(3): 2027-2036
Knoerl R, Giobbie-Hurder A, Sannes TS, Chagpar AB, Dillon D, Dominici LS, Frank ES, Golshan M, McTiernan A, Rhei E, Tolaney SM, Winer EP, Yung RL, Irwin ML, Ligibel JA

Exercise effects on DNA methylation in EVL, CDKN2A (p14, ARF), and ESR1 in colon tissue from healthy men and women.
(2021 Sep 22)
Duggan C, Yu M, Willbanks AR, Tapsoba JD, Wang CY, Grady WM, McTiernan A

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