Group of smiling businesswomen
Group of smiling businesswomen
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The Million Women Study

How a major project reviewing women’s health and running since 1997 has influenced health policy on issues from heart disease to HRT.

Possibilities Seminar 3:

29 November, 2016

4.30pm - 6pm, Committee Room 6, House of Commons. 

If you would like to attend the event please contact our Events Office.

Kevin Barron MP and Professor Valerie BeralKevin Barron MP and Professor Valerie Beral

Chair: Kevin Barron, MP

Kevin was elected as Member of Parliament for the Rother Valley in the 1983 general election. He has won all seven subsequent elections for the constituency.

On entering Parliament, Kevin became a member of the Select Committee on Energy. In 1985 he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Neil Kinnock. During the late 1980s and early 1990s he served as Shadow Minister for Energy, Employment and later Health. Kevin also became chair of the Yorkshire Group of Labour MPs in 1987, a position he still holds.

In 1993, Kevin was the originator of a Private Members Bill to ban the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. In July 1996 he was duly appointed Shadow Minister for Public Health.

In 1997, Kevin was selected to sit on the Intelligence and Security Committee, which he did until 2005. He also chaired the Parliamentary Labour Party Health Committee from 1997 to 2002. From 2005 to 2010 Kevin was Chair of the Health Select Committee and a member of the Liaison Committee. In 2005 he became a member of the Standards and Privileges Committee and in 2010 was made the Committee's Chair.

He is currently Chair of the All-Party Groups relating to the Film Industry, Pharmacy and is Co-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Health Group and All Party Group on Primary Care and Public health.

In 2001 Kevin was appointed as a Privy Councillor and given a Knighthood in 2014.

Speaker: Professor Valerie Beral


Director, Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford

Born in Australia, Professor Beral studied medicine at Sydney University, graduating in 1969 with bachelor degrees in both medicine and surgery, with first class honours. After a few years of clinical work in Australia and New Guinea she moved to the UK. At the Hammersmith Hospital, Dr Beral worked under Charles Fletcher who recognised that she was suited to epidemiology and so propelled her towards the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, where she worked for almost 20 years in the Department of Epidemiology. She also became a member of the Royal College of Physicians.

In 1988 she moved to direct the Cancer Research UK Cancer Epidemiology Unit in Oxford. Major research includes the role of reproductive, hormonal and infectious agents in cancer. She is Principal Investigator for the Million Women Study on the effect of women's lifestyle on health, with particular focus on the effects of hormone replacement therapy. Since 1991 this has led the international collaborative studies of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Dame Valerie has served on various international committees for the World Health Organization and the United States National Academy of Sciences. She also chairs the UK Department of Health's Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening.

Her honours include being awarded Dame of the British Empire (DBE) and Companion of Australia (AC) for her contributions to science. In addition, Professor Beral was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS), for scientific contributions to epidemiology.


Launched in 1997, the Million Women Study has since recruited 1.3 million UK women over the age of 50, through NHS breast screening centres. One in four UK women in the target age group have participated in the study, making it the largest of its kind in the world. Confirming the relationship between HRT and the risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, the Million Women Study has had a dramatic effect on HRT prescription patterns and prescription guidelines, leading to a reduction in breast cancer rates.

Since the publication of the Women’s Health Initiative trial and the Million Women Study, sales of HRT have halved in the US, UK and Europe. Consistent with the drop in HRT use, the incidence of breast cancer has also markedly decreased in women over the age of 50 in the US, UK and Europe.