Sto Lat! Health and Hormones

UPDATE: We have finished recruiting for the Sto Lat! Health and Hormones research project. We are working hard doing laboratory work and statistical analyses for this study. Thank you again to all of the study participants!

Cześć! We are scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We are part of an international study on women’s health with Jagiellonian University in Kraków. The goal of our research is to understand some of the things that affect menstrual cycles, reproduction, and bone health. For this project we will be looking at hormones, physical activity levels, diet, and genetic markers in women in Poland and Polish American women. We aim to better understand the ways genes and environment together affect women’s reproductive health

This international project with Jagiellonian University in Kraków is investigating women’s reproductive health in two different countries: the United States and Poland. We are looking for second and third generation Polish American women in Illinois aged 18-45*, in good health, non-smoking, not pregnant or nursing, and not on hormonal contraceptives. If this is you, please consider being a part of our study!

What you will do: For this project, we need to measure lots of things about how you live and what is going on in your body. This project will last for one menstrual cycle. The research will include surveys of reproductive health, ethnic identity, gender identity, and adverse experiences. Additionally, the research includes anthropometric measurements, bone density measurements, diet and physical activity tracking, urinary collections, blood draws, and saliva samples for genetic analysis.

Registration for the study is complete!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Q: Why are you doing this research with Polish and Polish American women?
A: Reproductive hormones affect things like being able to have a baby and health risks, such as risk for breast cancer and osteoporosis. There are heritable, genetic effects on fertility, but environment and lifestyle also plays a big role in affecting your menstrual cycle.

We are really interested in the effects of different environments on women’s reproductive health. Looking at related populations in two different places is one way to help answer questions about how environmental factors affect human reproduction.

Our lab spent the past summer 2014 and 2015 in a rural region of southern Poland where many people grow up and live or work on small farms. In the U.S., we are recruiting in urban and suburban centers, where women are likely living very different lifestyles. Doing this research with Polish and Polish American women helps us look at a lot of different environmental and genetic effects on reproductive traits!

Q: What do you hope to learn?
A: We are learning more about menstrual cycle hormones and how environment and early life experiences can affect these hormones later in life. We are looking at things like physical activity, body composition, and genetics. This research is important for things like understanding what factors help a woman have a successful pregnancy, breast cancer risk, osteoporosis risk, and simply knowing more about normal variation in menstrual cycles. Most women don’t have menstrual cycles with hormone patterns that look exactly like the ones you learned in biology textbooks!

Q: What do participants do?
A: We have two study options. In both options, women will fill out surveys about their health and environment. We will take measurements of women’s body size, including height, weight, body fat, and circumferences of bust, waist, and hips. Women will provide saliva and cheek swab samples for DNA analysis, and we will do a blood draw to measure markers of bone turnover. Women will also record physical activity and sleep in a daily calendar, wear a physical activity tracker (a FitBit), and fill out diet recall forms. For the first of study option, this calendar is only one week long. In the second (and more exciting!) option, women will fill out the calendar for a full menstrual cycle (about one month) and also collect a urine sample every morning. These urine samples will be used to measure reproductive hormones.

If you have any questions about your rights or concerns about the conduct of this project, you may contact the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Institutional Review Board, Suite 203, MC-419 528 East Green Street Champaign, IL 61820 tel: 217-333-2670 email:

The University of Illinois does not provide medical or hospitalization insurance coverage for participants in this research study nor will the University of Illinois provide compensation for any injury sustained as a result of participation in this research study, except as required by law.

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