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Dr Michelle Harvie - Lifestyle Prevention of Breast Cancer and its Recurrance

Michelle Harvie was one of the first to demonstrate that weight loss can reduce risk of breast cancer. Her collaborative epidemiological study with the Iowa Women’s health study cohort (33,000 women) suggested risk reduction of 25-40%.


Research Dietitian

Nightingale and Genesis Prevention Centre
Wythenshawe Hospital
Southmoor Road
M23 9LT

Tel: +44 (0)161 291 4410
Fax: +44 (0)161 291 4412

Lab staff

Mary Chapman - Research Dietitian
Debbie McMullan - Exercise Specialist & Research Assistant
Ellen Mitchell - Dietetic Assistant

Dr Michelle Harvie is a research dietitian at the Nightingale Centre, University Hospital South Manchester Trust. She qualified as a dietitian in 1991 and was awarded a PhD for studies of weight gain in cancer patients in 2000. Her current programme of work commenced in 2001 and is researching optimum diet and exercise strategies to prevent breast cancer and its recurrence. Her work is largely supported by the Genesis Appeal and includes intervention and epidemiological studies. Her scientific findings have been published in many major scientific publications and she was awarded the British Dietetic Association Rose Simmond's Award for best published dietetic research 2005 for her work on weight gain amongst breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.

Dr Harvie is a member of the Breast Cancer Campaign Scientific Advisory Committee and the WCRF/AICR protocol development group for cancer survivors as part of WCRF/AICR Continuous Update Project. Dr Harvie also advises the leading breast cancer charities (Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Care, Genesis, Breast Cancer Campaign) on their delivery of lifestyle advice. She represents the British Dietetic Association on the National Research Forum for Allied Health Professions (RFAHP) and national Rehabilitation Workforce Project Cancer Action Team to provide lifestyle advise patients after a cancer diagnosis. She was a nominee for UK Women of the Year award, 2009, and Manchester Health Woman of the year 2007, and has published the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Diet (Rodale 2006).


Intermittent energy restriction induces changes in breast gene expression and systemic metabolism

Harvie MN, Sims AH, Pegington M, Spence K, Mitchell A, Vaughan AA, Allwood JW, Xu Y, Rattray NJW, Goodacre R, Evans DGR, Mitchell E, McMullen D, Clarke RB and Howell A

 Breast Cancer Research. 2016. 18(1):57.

Breast cancer risk feedback to women in the UK NHS breast screening population.

Evans DG, Donnelly LS, Harkness EF, Astley SM, Stavrinos P, Dawe S, Watterson D, Fox L, Sergeant JC, Ingham S, Harvie MN, Wilson M, Beetles U, Buchan I, Brentnall AR, French DP, Cuzick J, Howell A.

Br J Cancer. 2016. 114(9).

Mammographic density adds to Tyrer-Cuzick and Gail model breast cancer risk in a UK screening cohort

Adam R Brentnall, Elaine F Harkness, Susan M Astley, Louise S Donnelly, Paula Stavrinos, Sarah Dawe, Lynne Fox,  Jamie C Sergeant, Michelle N Harvie, Mary Wilson, Ursula Beetles, Anthony Howell, Jack Cuzick, D. Gareth R Evans. 

Breast Cancer Res. 2015. 1;17(1):147

Could intermittent energy restriction and intermittent fasting reduce rates of cancer amongst obese, overweight and normal weight subjects? A summary of evidence.

Michelle Harvie and Anthony Howell

Advances in Nutrition. 2016. 7: 690-705.

Can diet and lifestyle prevent breast cancer: what is the evidence?

Harvie M, Howell A, Evans DG.

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2015;35:e66-73.

Beliefs about weight and breast cancer: an interview study with high risk women following a 12 month weight loss intervention.

Wright CE, Harvie M, Howell A, Evans DG, Hulbert-Williams N, Donnelly LS.

Hered Cancer Clin Pract. 2015 Jan 9;13(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s13053-014-0023-9.

Risk determination and prevention of breast cancer.

Howell A, Anderson AS, Clarke RB, Duffy SW, Evans DG, Garcia-Closas M, Gescher AJ, Key TJ, Saxton JM, Harvie MN.

Breast Cancer Res. 2014 Sep 28;16(5):446. doi: 10.1186/s13058-014-0446-2.

Meal frequency and timing in health and disease.

Mattson MP, Allison DB, Fontana L, Harvie M, Longo VD, Malaisse WJ, Mosley M, Notterpek L, Ravussin E, Scheer FA, Seyfried TN, Varady KA, Panda S.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 25;111(47):16647-53. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1413965111.

Breast cancer risk in young women in the national breast screening programme: implications for applying NICE guidelines for additional screening and chemoprevention.

Evans DG, Brentnall AR, Harvie M, Dawe S, Sergeant JC, Stavrinos P, Astley S, Wilson M, Ainsworth J, Cuzick J, Buchan I, Donnelly LS, Howell A.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Oct;7(10):993-1001. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0037.

Nutritional supplements and cancer: potential benefits and proven harms.

Harvie M.

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2014:e478-86. doi: 10.14694/EdBook_AM.2014.34.e478.

Self-efficacy for temptations is a better predictor of weight loss than motivation and global self-efficacy: evidence from two prospective studies among overweight/obese women at high risk of breast cancer.

Armitage CJ, Wright CL, Parfitt G, Pegington M, Donnelly LS, Harvie MN.

Patient Educ Couns. 2014 May;95(2):254-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2014.01.015.

Critical research gaps and translational priorities for the successful prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Eccles SA et al.

Breast Cancer Res. 2013 Oct 1;15(5):R92. doi: 10.1186/bcr3493.

The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight women.

Harvie M, Wright C, Pegington M, McMullan D, Mitchell E, Martin B, Cutler RG, Evans G, Whiteside S, Maudsley S, Camandola S, Wang R, Carlson OD, Egan JM, Mattson MP, Howell A.

Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(8):1534-47. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513000792.

Lifestyle changes in women at genetic risk of breast cancer: an observational study.

McLeish L, Reis MM, Stewart C, Goudie DR, Berg JN, Harvie M, Hanning KA, Vysny H, Steel CM.

Int J Behav Med. 2013 Dec;20(4):514-21. doi: 10.1007/s12529-012-9263-0.

Weight change associated with anastrozole and tamoxifen treatment in postmenopausal women with or at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Sestak I, Harvie M, Howell A, Forbes JF, Dowsett M, Cuzick J.

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jul;134(2):727-34. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2085-6.

Assessing individual breast cancer risk within the U.K. National Health Service Breast Screening Program: a new paradigm for cancer prevention.

Evans DG, Warwick J, Astley SM, Stavrinos P, Sahin S, Ingham S, McBurney H, Eckersley B, Harvie M, Wilson M, Beetles U, Warren R, Hufton A, Sergeant JC, Newman WG, Buchan I, Cuzick J, Howell A.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Jul;5(7):943-51. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0458.

Energy restriction and the prevention of breast cancer.

Harvie M, Howell A.

Proc Nutr Soc. 2012 May;71(2):263-75. doi: 10.1017/S0029665112000195.

The role of energy restriction, diet and exercise to prevent breast cancer

We were one of the first groups to demonstrate that weight loss can reduce risk of breast cancer. This collaborative epidemiological study with the Iowa Women’s health study cohort (33,000 women) suggested risk reduction of 25-40%. We have also undertaken a systematic review which highlights the role of central and general adiposity on risk. Our subsequent intervention studies have explored the effect of weight loss, diet and exercise on serum and mammographic markers of breast cancer risk. A collaborative study with Dr Robert Clarke (MBC) examined the effects of energy restriction on gene expression within the breast. Our recent Breast Cancer Campaign, World Cancer Research Fund and Genesis funded project examined the effects of intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss and biomarkers of breast cancer risk amongst women at increased risk of breast cancer. Much of our work is focused amongst women at increased risk of breast cancer. We demonstrated that high risk women have a propensity to gain central fat. We are currently evaluating the motivation to change lifestyle behavior to reduce risk in an interview study amongst women with the BRCA mutation.

The role of energy restriction, diet and exercise to prevent recurrence of breast cancer

Our 2004 publication highlighted the problem of weight gain after diagnosis of breast cancer whilst our subsequent surveys indicate the lack of weight control services for patients. In 2008 we undertook a pilot trial to assess weight control interventions amongst early breast cancer patients Breast - Activity & Healthy Eating after Diagnosis study (B-AHEAD). We have been awarded a £250,000 Research for Patient Benefit grant to compare 3 ways to deliver weight control advice in the NHS; a supervised diet and exercise class, home based programme or written advice only.


Significant differences in UK and US female bone density reference ranges. Noon E, Singh S, Cuzick J, Spector TD, Williams FM, Frost ML, Howell A, Harvie M, Eastell R, Coleman RE, Fogelman I, Blake GM. Osteoporos Int, in press

Greater improvement in insulin sensitivity with intermittent versus continuous energy restriction in a randomised trial in young overweight women.Harvie MN, Pegington M, Mattson MP, Frystyk J, Dillon B, Evans DG, Cuzick J, Jebb S, Martin B, Cutler RG, Son TG, Maudsley S, Carlson OD, Egan JE, Flyvbjerg A, Howell A.. Obesity Journal, in press.

Increase in Serum Total IGF-I and Maintenance of Free IGF-I Following Intentional Weight Loss in Pre-menopausal Women at Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Invited The Open Obesity Journal  Harvie M.

Adherence to a diet and exercise weight loss intervention amongst women at increased risk of breast cancer. The Open Obesity Journal (  Harvie M.

The importance of controlling body weight after a diagnosis of breast cancer: the role of diet and exercise in breast cancer patient management. Exercise after Cancer Diagnosis: Impact on Health Outcomes and Quality of Life. Springer Science (To be published November  2009).  Harvie M.

Biomarkers of dietary energy restriction in women at increased risk of breast cancer. Ong KR, Sims AH, Harvie M, Chapman M, Dunn WB, Broadhurst D, Goodacre R, Wilson M, Thomas N, Clarke RB, Howell A. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa) 2009; 2 (8): 720-31.

Energy restriction for breast cancer prevention. Howell A, Chapman M, Harvie M.


Howell A, Chapman M, Harvie M. Energy restriction for breast cancer prevention. Recent Results Cancer Res. 2009; 181:97-111.


Howell A, Harvie M.  Should lifestyle modifications be promoted to prevent breast cancer? Breast Cancer Res. 2008; 10 Suppl 4:S11.

Thompson A, Brennan K, Cox A et al. Evaluation of the current knowledge limitations in breast cancer research: a gap analysis. Breast Cancer Res. 2008; 10:R26.


Harvie MN, Bokhari S, Shenton A et al.  Adult weight gain and central obesity in women with and without a family history of breast cancer: a case control study. Fam.Cancer 2007; 6:287-94.


Harvie M, Howell A.  Energy balance adiposity and breast cancer - energy restriction strategies for breast cancer prevention. Obes.Rev. 2006; 7:33-47.

Renehan AG, Harvie M, Howell A. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF binding protein-3, and breast cancer risk: eight years on. Endocr.Relat Cancer 2006; 13:273-8.


Harvie M, Howell A, Vierkant RA et al. Association of gain and loss of weight before and after menopause with risk of postmenopausal breast cancer in the Iowa women's health study. Cancer Epidemiol.Biomarkers Prev. 2005; 14:656-61.

Howell A, Sims AH, Ong KR, Harvie MN, Evans DG, Clarke RB. Mechanisms of Disease: prediction and prevention of breast cancer - cellular and molecular interactions. Nat.Clin.Pract.Oncol. 2005; 2:635-46.

Harvie MN, Howell A, Thatcher N, Baildam A, Campbell I. Energy balance in patients with advanced NSCLC, metastatic melanoma and metastatic breast cancer receiving chemotherapy--a longitudinal study. Br.J Cancer 2005;92: 673-80.


Warren R, Harvie M, Howell A. Strategies for managing breast cancer risk after the menopause. Treat.Endocrinol. 2004; 3:289-307.

Harvie MN, Campbell IT, Baildam A, Howell A. Energy balance in early breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. Breast Cancer Res.Treat. 2004; 83:201-10.


Harvie MN, Campbell IT, Thatcher N, Baildam A. Changes in body composition in men and women with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) undergoing chemotherapy. J Hum.Nutr.Diet. 2003;16:323-6.

Harvie M, Hooper L, Howell AH. Central obesity and breast cancer risk: a systematic review. Obes.Rev. 2003;4:157-73.


Harvie MN, Campbell IT, Howell A, Thatcher N. Acceptability and tolerance of a low tyrosine and phenylalanine diet in patients with advanced cancer - a pilot study. Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics 2002;15:193-202.

Ainslie PN, Abbas K, Campbell IT et al. Metabolic and appetite responses to prolonged walking under three isoenergetic diets. J Appl.Physiol 2002;92:2061-70.


Harvie MN, Campbell IT. Energy balance, cancer and the sympathetic nervous system.[comment]. [Review] [62 refs]. European Journal of Cancer 2000;36:289-92.