Alexandra White, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Stadtman Investigator

Epidemiology Branch / Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group


David P Rall Building
111 Tw Alexander Dr
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709


Research Topics

The group identifies novel and modifiable environmental exposures that are related to cancer risk and explore underlying biologic mechanisms. Given the high incidence of breast cancer and the widespread prevalence of environmental exposures, the research has the potential to have a substantial impact on public health. With the long-term goal of reducing the incidence of cancer, the Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group aims to identify environmental carcinogens for which exposure can be mitigated either with policy changes or individual-level interventions.

The work has leveraged two studies focused on identifying environmental risk factors for cancer, the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project and the Sister Study prospective cohort. The research has uncovered the role of indoor and outdoor air pollution, which includes chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals, in breast carcinogenesis. White has also had successful collaborations with other study populations including the nationwide Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Ongoing research is focused on the role of air pollution components and other environmental chemicals, individually and in combination, in relation to breast cancer risk. The group also focuses on the role of epigenetics as a biomarker of exposure and as a potential biologic mechanism linking the environment with breast carcinogenesis.


White obtained her M.S.P.H. and Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gilling’s School of Global Public Health. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch and joined the Branch as an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in 2019.

Selected Publications

  1. White AJ, Keller JP, Zhao S, Carroll R, Kaufman JD, Sandler DP. Air Pollution, Clustering of Particulate Matter Components, and Breast Cancer in the Sister Study: A U.S.-Wide Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2019;127(10):107002.
  2. Chang CJ, O'Brien KM, Keil AP, Gaston SA, Jackson CL, Sandler DP, White AJ. Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products and Incident Uterine Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2022;114(12):1636-1645.
  3. Niehoff NM, O'Brien KM, Keil AP, Levine KE, Liyanapatirana C, Haines LG, Waidyanatha S, Weinberg CR, White AJ. Metals and Breast Cancer Risk: A Prospective Study Using Toenail Biomarkers. Am J Epidemiol. 2021;190(11):2360-2373.
  4. Ish JL, Abubakar M, Fan S, Jones RR, Niehoff NM, Henry JE, Gierach GL, White AJ. Outdoor air pollution and histologic composition of normal breast tissue. Environ Int. 2023;176:107984.
  5. Keil AP, Buckley JP, O'Brien KM, Ferguson KK, Zhao S, White AJ. A Quantile-Based g-Computation Approach to Addressing the Effects of Exposure Mixtures. Environ Health Perspect. 2020;128(4):47004.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Monday, January 28, 2019