Dr R.J.J. Elands (Rachel)
Postdoc - Radboud Institute for Culture and History
Postdoc - Department of History, Art History and Classics
6525 HT NIJMEGEN
6500 HD NIJMEGEN
As a postdoctoral researcher at Radboud University, I am contributing to the 'Lifting the burden of disease' project. Within this project, I am investigating what determinants on the individual-level have driven the modernization of health in the Netherlands using a spatial analysis of death and disease at the city level in Amsterdam from 1854-1940. To what extend was the decline in the burden of infectious disease in the late 19th century socially patterned across the city? This involves trying to incorporate spatial analysis into the study of historical demographic change to understand diffusion mechanisms linked to the spread and variation of demographic behaviours. This novel micro-level approach promises to make an important breakthrough in the current academic debate on the determinants of the great leaps in life expectancy before the 1940s.
My PhD work aimed at a deeper understanding of how environmental factors early in life, independently, and mediated through adult-attained height, are associated with cancer risk. A taller stature is associated with increased cancer risks. This study was conducted in the Netherlands, inhabiting the tallest population in the world. The unique individual-level retrospective data covered the Economic Depression Years from 1925-'34, War Years from 1940-'44 and the Dutch Hunger Winter from 1944-'45. In addition, toenail material was collected from the cohort to allow for genotyping. Hence, both early life environmental factors and genetic markers were studied in the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer in relation to cancer risk.