Lauren Houghton, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
Profile Headshot


Lauren C. Houghton, PhD, takes a life course approach to understanding the intersection of environmental and hormonal factors in breast cancer carcinogenesis, focusing primarily on exposures during puberty. Dr. Houghton is interested in how culture gets beneath the skin, specifically in relation to women's reproductive lives from puberty to child rearing to menopause. She gained experience in Cancer Epidemiology as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute where she explored international variation in sex steroids and other biomarkers. She has extensively worked with migrant studies in Bangladesh, the UK and Mongolia to better understand genetic and environmental risk factors among females moving from low to high risk geographic areas. She has conducted fieldwork with Native Americans in the US, menopausal women in the UK and school girls in Bangladesh and is currently a co-investigator of The LEGACY girls study in New York City.  Having a background in anthropology, Dr. Houghton is also interested in developing mixed-methods to be implemented in epidemiological studies to better capture biological and cultural mediators of health disparities. 

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Epidemiology


  • Female

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 2004 Ithaca College
  • MSc, 2008 Durham University
  • PhD, 2012 Durham University

Honors & Awards

NCI Director's Innovation Award


Research Interests

  • Biostatistical Methods
  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Chronic disease
  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health

Selected Publications

Ester WA and Houghton LC, Lumey LH, Michel, KB, Wei Y, Cohn BA, Susser ES, Terry MB. Maternal and early childhood determinants of women's body size in midlife: overall cohort and sibling analyses. AJE 2017 Feb15:1-10. PMID: 28200097

Houghton LC, Cooper GD, Bentley GR, Booth M, Chowdhury OA, Troisi R, Ziegler RG, Hoover RN, Katki HA. A migrant study of pubertal timing and tempo in British-Bangladeshi girls at varying risk for breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2014 Nov 15;16(6):469. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25398700

Houghton LC, Ganmaa D, Rosenberg PS, Davaalkham D, Stanczyk FZ, Hoover RN, Troisi R. Associations of Breast Cancer Risk Factors with Premenopausal Sex Hormones in Women with Very Low Breast Cancer Risk. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Oct 31;13(11). pii: E1066. PubMed PMID: 27809264; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5129276.

Houghton LC, Ester WA, Lumey LH, Michels KB, Wei Y, Cohn BA, Susser ES, Terry MB. Maternal weight gain in excess of pregnancy guidelines is related to daughters being overweight 40 years later. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Aug;215(2):246.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.02.034. PubMed PMID: 26901274; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4967392.

Houghton LC, Cooper G, Booth M, Chowdhury OA, Troisi R, Ziegler RG, Hoover RN, Katki HA, Bentley GR. Childhood environment influences adrenarche among Bangladeshi migrants to the UK. PLoS ONE. 2014. 9(10):e109200.

Schooling MC, Houghton LC and Terry MB. Potential intervention targets in utero and early life for prevention of hormone related cancers. Pediatrics. 2016. 138 (Supp 1): S22-S33. PMID: 27940974.

Mary Beth Terry, Ph.D, Mandy Goldberg, MPHa, Sarah Schechter, MD, Lauren C. Houghton, PhD ,Melissa White, MSW, Karen O'Toole, RN, Wendy K. Chung, MD, PhD, Mary B. Daly, MD, PhD, Theresa H.M. Keegan, PhD, MS, Irene L. Andrulis, PhD, Angela R. Bradbury, MD, Lisa Schwartz, PhD Julia A. Knight, PhD, Esther M. John, PhD, and Saundra S. Buys, MD . Comparison of Clinical, Maternal and Self Pubertal Assessments: Implications for Health Studies. Pediatrics. 2016. 138(1). PMID: 27279647

Troisi R, Ganmaa D, Dos Santos Silva I, Davaalkham D, Rosenberg PS, Rich-Edwards J, Frasier L, Houghton L, Janes C, Stanczyk F, Hoover RN. The Role of Hormones in the Differences in the Incidence of Breast Cancer between Mongolia and the United Kingdom. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 23;9(12):e114455. PMID: 25536229.

Faupel-Badger JM, McElrath TF, Lauria M, Houghton LC, Lim K, Parry S, Cantonwine D, Lai G, Karumanchi SA, Hoover RN, Troisi R. Maternal circulating angiogenic factors in twin and singleton pregnancies. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Nov 27. (14) PubMed PMID: 25434840.

Global Health Activities

Adolescence among Bangladeshi and British Youth (ABBY): This migrant study explores pubertal development and growing up from a biocultural perspective among 500 girls living in Bangladesh and the UK.

International Breast Cancer & Nutrition, The mission of the IBCN project is to foster the development of a community of scientists across disciplines and public health experts dedicated to research on the primary prevention of breast cancer. Within this mission IBCN is also designing an international, multidisciplinary and integrated collaborative program to identify the impact of nutrition on breast cancer onset (and recurrence) and to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in nutrient-induced breast tissue alterations and cancer development. The anticipated outcomes of this program are the development of strategies to diminish breast cancer incidence and/or incidence of aggressive forms of breast cancer based on epidemiological and biological findings related to nutrition and an impact on public policies via information of the public and health authorities.

Urban Health Activities

LEGACY Girls Study: Five sites of the Breast Cancer Family Registry (San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Ontario, Philadelphia and Utah) were funded by the National Cancer Institute to study the influence of behavior, environment and diet on pubertal growth in girls aged 6 to 13 years. The LEGACY Girls Study is a longitudinal cohort study following 1040 girls and their parent or guardian, contacting them every six months for information on progression of growth and development, diet and lifestyle factors. Half of the girls come from families with a history of breast cancer, and the other half come from families without breast cancer. We hope that this study will provide insight into the relationship between lifestyle factors, puberty and development, and breast cancer risk.