Cynthia A Thomson, PhD, RD

Professor, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Director, Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention & Health Promotion
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Medicine
Professor, Nutritional Sciences Graduate Program
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-1565
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Cynthia Thomson is a doctoral trained nutrition scientist and registered dietitian who leads a focused research program in lifestyle behaviors and cancer survivorship. She currently leads the multi-site, NRG Lifestyle Intervention in ovarian cancer Enhanced Survival (LiVES) Study, the largest trial ever undertaken to evaluate the role of diet and physical activity in promoting progression-free survival among women previously treated for ovarian cancer. In addition, Dr. Thomson has an R01 to evaluate the role of di-indolylmethane (vs placebo) in enhancing tamoxifen efficacy in breast cancer survivors. She directs the UACC Behavioral Measurements and Interventions Shared Resource (BMSR), a service designed to support lifestyle interventions and related behavior measurements in cancer prevention research. Additionally, she directs the UA Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion a center whose goal is to promote healthy lifestyles in Tucsonans as well as the Arizona Smokers' Helpline, a tobacco cessation helpline to support all Arizonans in their quest to stop tobacco use.

As a clinical translational scientist involved in lifestyle behavioral interventions for the modification of chronic disease risk with an emphasis on diet, cancer and obesity and one who has demonstrated success in leadership over time, Dr. Thomson is well-positioned to lead and support the Cancer Prevention and Control Program as well as the Behavioral Measurements and Intervention Shared Resource at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. In the past 20 years she has led numerous diet and health behavior intervention trials, including leadership as Site PI for the Women’s Eating and Living Study (Pierce), The Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (Chlebowski) and the Dietary Modification trial of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) (Prentice).

Currently Dr. Thomson is leading a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of di-indolylmethane in women taking Tamoxifen (1R01CA149417-01A1) and a large cooperative group study of lifestyle interventions for ovarian cancer survivors (NCT 00719303). As a doctoral trained nutrition scientist with expertise and a significant publication record in the area of diet, dietary measurement, and cancer, she is positioned to support researchers interested in cancer prevention/behavioral intervention research including assistance with clinical trial design, interventions and implementation as well as exposure measurement and analysis. Further, she has mentored dozens of junior faculty and students during her tenure at the university.

Dr. Thomson has developed a substantial network of colleagues and relevant resources to support junior investigators in achieving their research goals, a mentoring role essential to the on-going expansion of our CPC program at the cancer center. In the area of leadership she currently leads a research team of 35 staff, 4 pre-doctoral/medicine, a post-doctoral fellow, and 27 master’s and undergraduate level students in active training.

In 2014 Dr. Thomson was selected to direct the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline and immediately established a tobacco research team to expand the impact of this resource for cancer prevention research. She leads a similar research team of junior investigators who are using data from WHI to test hypotheses related to cancer and chronic disease risk reduction, resulting in over 25 manuscript publications in the past 4 years.

Dr. Thomson has led the Behavioral Measurements Shared Resource for the past 15 years, providing expertise in assessment of nutrient/bioactive intake, questionnaire administration and interpretation of dietary data including measurement error and bias to numerous investigators. Importantly, she has established a team of content experts to support advisement for investigators at the cancer center regarding other lifestyle measures and interventions including such areas as physical activity (Going, Garcia), sun safety (Loescher, Harris), tobacco (Muramoto, Gordon), and stress (Wiehs, Badger). These advisors also give input to our strategic planning and service provisions. In summary, Dr. Thomson is highly committed to assuring the success of UACC, through effective and strong leadership of the high impact, nationally recognized Cancer Prevention and Control program.

Clinical Information

Disease or Clinical Specialty: 
Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Prevention
Cancer Prevention
Ovarian Cancer
Women's Health

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Prevention and Control
Member Status: 
Research Member
Year of Membership Acceptance: 
Research Focus: 
Major Fields of Research Interest: Diet and cancer prevention (breast, ovarian, colon), Dietary methodology, Biomarkers (cancer and diet).
Selected Publications: 

Dr. Thomson's NCBI bibliography

  1. Steck SE, Guinter M, Zheng J, Thomson CA. Index-based dietary patterns and colorectal cancer risk: a systematic review. Adv Nutr. 6: 1-12, 2015. (accepted for publication October 2015).
  2. Bea JW, Thomson CA, Wertheim BC, Nicholas JS, Ernst K, Hu CC, Jackson R, Cauley JA, Lewis CE, Caan B, Roe D, Chen Z. Risk for mortality according to body mass index and body composition among postmenopausal women. Am J Epi. 182(7): 585-596, 2015.
  3. Reeves KW, Tehranifar P, Crane TE, Ko LK, Cameron C, Hamilton JG, Lavigne JA, Reiter PL, Thomson CA. Job talks and interviews: how to stand out and fit in a report from the American Society of Preventive Oncology Junior Members Interest Group. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. (accepted October 2015).
  4. Manson JE, Vargas A, Neuhouser ML, George ST, Thomson CA, Ho G, Rohan T, Kato I, Nassir R, Hou L. Diet quality and colorectal cancer risk in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Am J Epidemiol. (accepted October 2015).
  5. Neuhouser ML, Aragaki AK, Prentice RL, Manson JE, Chlebowski R, Carty CL, Ochs-Balcom HM, Thomson CA, Caan BJ, Tinker LF,Urrutia RP, Knudtson J, Anderson GL. Overweight, obesity and postmenopausal invasive breast cancer risk: A secondary analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Clinical Trials. JAMA Oncol. 1(5): 611-621, 2015. [PMID: 26182172].
  6. Vargas AJ, Ashbeck EL, Wertheim BC, Wallace RA, Neuhouser ML, Thomson CA, Thompson PA. Dietary polyamine intake and colorectal cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 102(2): 411-419, 2015. [PMID: 26135350].
  7. Neuhouser M, Beresford S, Song X, Ulrich C, Miller J, Zheng Y, Brown E, Thomson CA, Cheng D, Shikany JM, Vitolins M, Connelly S, Rohan T. Red blood cell folate and plasma folate are not associated with risk of incident colorectal in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Int J Cancer. [Epub ahead of print January 2015]. [PMID: 25643945].
  8. Demark-Wahnefried W, Rogers L, Alfanoc, Thomson CA, Courneya K, Meyerhardt J, Stout N, Kvale E, Ganzer H, Ligibel J. Practical clinical interventions for diet, physical activity, and weight control in cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 65(3): 167-189, 2015. [PMID: 25683894].
  9. Simon M, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Thomson CA, Ray RM, Hubbell FA, Lessin L, Lane DS, Kuller LH. Mammography interval and breast cancer mortality in women over the age of 75. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 148: 187-195, 2014.
  10. Thomson CA, Crane TE, Wertheim BC, Neuhouser ML, Li W, Snetselaar L, Basen-Engquist K, Irwin ML. Diet quality and survival after ovarian cancer: results from the Women’s Health Initiative. JNCI. doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju314. [Epub ahead of print November 2014]. [PMID: 25665480].
  11. Garcia DO, Thomson CA. Physical Activity and Cancer Survivorship. Nutr Clin Prac. Published online October 21, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0884533614551969. [PMID: 25335480].
  12. Thomson CA, Van Horn L, Caan B, Aragaki A, Chlebowski R, Manson JE, Rohan T, Tinker LF, Kuller L, Hou L, Lane D, Johnson KC, Vitolins M, Prentice R. Cancer incidence and mortality during the intervention and post intervention periods of the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trail. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 23(12): 2924-2935, 2014. [PMID: 25258014] [PMCID: PMC4257879].
  13. Vargas A, Thomson CA, Thompson PA, Ashbeck E, Gerner EW. Dietary polyamine intake and polyamines measured in urine. Nutr Cancer. 66(7): 1144-1153, 2014. [PMID: 25204413].
  14. Hingle M, Ellison E, McKenzie N, Harris RB, Logan RA, Thomson CA. Effects of an SMS-based skin cancer prevention campaign in adolescents. Amer J Prev Med.47(5): 617-623, 2014. [PMID: 25053602] [PMCID: PMC4250167].
  15. Houghton SC, Reeves K, Hankinson SE, Crawford L, Lane D, Wactawsk-Wende J, Thomson CA, Ockene JK, Sturgeon SR. Perineal powder use and risk of ovarian cancer.  JNCI. 106(9): dju208 doi:10.1093/jnci/dju208. 2014.
  16. Zheng C, Beresford SA, Van Horn L, Tinker LF, Thomson CA, Neuhouser ML, Di C, Manson JE, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Seguin R, Manini T, LaCroix AZ, Prentice RL. Simultaneous association of total energy consumption and activity-related energy expenditure with cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes risk among postmenopausal women. Am J Epidemiol. 80(5): 526-535, 2014. [PMID: 25016533] [PMCID: PMC4143077].
  17. Sardo CL, Hibler EA, Ashbeck EL, Thomson CA, Garcia DO, Roe DR, Harris R, Lance MP, Cisneroz M, Martinez ME, Thompson PA, Jacobs ET. Sedentary behavior is associated with colorectal adenoma recurrence in men. Cancer Causes Control. 25(10): 1387-1395, 2014 [PMID: 25060482] PMCID: PMC4228938].
  18. Thomson CA, McCullough ML, Wertheim BC, Chlebowski R, Martinez ME, Stefanick ML, Rohan TE, Manson JE, Tindle HA, Ockene J, Vitolins MZ, Wactawski-Wende J, Sarto GE, Lane D, Neuhouser ML. Nutrition and physical activity cancer prevention guidelines, cancer risk, and mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Prevention Research. 2014 Jan;7(1):42-53. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0258. 2014. [PMID: 24403289].
  20. Crane TE, Khulpateea BR, Alberts DS, Basen-Engquist K, Thomson CA. Dietary intake and ovarian cancer: a systematic review. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Epub ahead of print October 2013. [PMID: 24142805].
  21. Prentice RL, Neuhouser ML, Tinker LF, Pettinger M, Thomson CA, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Thomas F, Qi L, Huang Y. An exploratory study of respiratory quotient calibration and association with postmenopausal breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 22(12): 2374-2383, 2013. [PMID: 24108790].
  22. Wassertheil-Smoller S, McGinn A, Budrys N, Chlebowski R, Ho G, Johnson KC, Lane DS, Li W, Neuhouser ML, Saquib J, Shikany JM,Song Y, Thomson CA. Multivitamin and mineral use and breast cancer mortality in older women with invasive breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research Treat. 141(3): 495-505, 2013. [PMID: 24104882].
  23. Prentice RL, Pettinger M, Tinker LF, Huang Y, Thomson CA, Johnson KC, Beasley J, Anderson G, Shikany JM, Chlebowski RT, Neuhouser ML. Regression calibration in nutritional epidemiology: example of fat density and total energy in relationship to postmenopausal breast cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 78(11): 1663-1672, 2013. [PMID: 24064741].
  24. Yousef F, Jacobs ET, Kang PT, Hakim IA, Going S, Yousef JM, Al-Raddadi RM, Kumosani TA, Thomson CA. Vitamin D status and breast cancer in Saudi Arabian women: case control study. Am J Clin Nutr. 98(1):105-110, 2013. [PMID: 23697705].
  25. Stendell-Hollis NR, Thompson PA, Thomson CA, O’Sullivan MJ, Ray RM, Chlebowski RT. Investigating the association of lactation history and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Women’s Health Initiative. Nutr Cancer. 65(7): 969-981, 2013. [PMID: 24127779].
  26. Rohan T, Heo M, Choi L, Datta M, Freudenheim JL,Kamensky V, Ochs-Balcom H, Qi L, Thomson CA, Vitolins M, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Kabat G. Body fat and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: a longitudianal study. J Cancer Epidemiol. [Epub ahead of print]. [PMID: 23690776].
  27. Kabat G, Heo M, Wactawski-Wende J, Messina C, Thomson CA, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Rohan TE.  Body fat and risk of colorectal cancer among postmenopausal women. Cancer Causes Control. 24(6):1198-1205, 2013. [PMID: 23546610].
  28. Jacobs ET, Thomson CA, Flatt SW, Newman VA, Rock CL, Pierce JP. Correlates of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and breast cancer stage in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study. Nutr Cancer. 65(2): 188-194, 2013. [PMID: 23441606].
  29. Thomson CA and Thompson PA. Fruit and vegetable intake and breast cancer risk: a case for subtype-specific risk? J Natl Cancer Inst. 105(3): 164-165, 2013. [PMID: 23349253].
  30. Kuiper JG, Phipps AI, Neuhouser ML, Chlebowski RT, Thomson CA, Irwin ML, Lane DS, Wactawski-Wende J, Hou L, Jackson RD, Kampman E, Newcomb PA. Recreational physical activity, body mass index and survival in women with colorectal cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 23(12):1939-1948, 2012. [PMID: 23053793].
  31. Thomson CA. Diet and breast cancer: understanding risks and benefits. Nutr Clin Pract. 27(5):636-650, 2012. [PMID: 22948801]
  32. Vargas AJ, Wertheim BC, Gerner EW, Thomson CA, Rock CL, Thompson PA. Dietary polyamine intake and risk of colorectal adenomatous polyps. Am J Clin Nutr. 96(1):133-141, 2012. [PMID: 22648715].
  33. Caan BJ, Emond JA, Su I, Patterson R, Flatt SW, Gold EB, Newman VA, Rock CL, Thomson CA, Pierce JP. Effect of postdiagnosis weight change on hot flash status among early stage breast cancer survivors. J Clin Onc. 30(13):1492-1497, 2012. [PMID: 22430275].
  34. Butalla AC, Crane TE, Patil B, Wertheim BC, Thompson PA, Thomson CA. Effects of a carrot juice intervention on plasma carotenoids, oxidative stress, and inflammation in overweight breast cancer survivors. Nutr & Cancer. 64(2): 331-341, 2012. [PMID: 22292424].
  35. Kabat G, Kim M, Rohan T, Wactawski-Wende J, Thomson CA, Luo J. Anthropometric factors and physical activity and risk of thyroid cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Causes Control. 23(3): 421-430, 2012. [PMID: 22212611].
  36. Miller JA, Thompson PA, Hakim IA, Lopez  AM, Thomson CA, Chew W, Hsu CH, Chow, HHS. Safety and feasibility of topical application of limonene as a massage oil to the breast. J Cancer Therapy. Epub ahead of print: doi:10.4236/jct.2012.325094.  [PMID: not listed]
  37. Laddau D, Dow C, Hingle M, Thomson CA, Going SB. A review of evidence-based strategies to treat obesity in adults. Nutr Clin Pract. 26(5):512-525, 2011.
  38. Simon MS, Thomson CA, Pettijohn, E, Kato I, Roadabough R, Lane D, Hubbell FA, O’Sullivan MJ, Adams-Campbell LL, Mouton CP, Abrams J, Chelbowski RT. Racial differences in colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 20(7):1368-78, 2011 [PMID: 21602308].
  39. Miller JA, Thompson PA, Hakim IA, Chow HH, Thomson CA. d-Limonene: A bioactive food component from citrus and evidence for a potential role in breast cancer prevention and treatment. Onc Rev. 5:31-42, 2011.
  40. Irwin M, McTiern A, Manson JE, Thomson CA, Sternfeld B, Stefanick ML, Wactawski-Wende J, Craft L, Lane D, Martin LW, Chlebowski. Physical activity and survival in postmenopausal women with breast cancer: results from the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Prev Res. 4(4):522-529, 2011. [PMID: 21464032].
  41. Saquib J,  Rock CL, Natarajan L, Saquib N, Newman VA, Paterson RE, Thomson CA, Al-Delaimy WK, Pierce JP.  Dietary intake, supplement use, and survival among women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 63(3):327-333, 2011. [PMID: 21391124].
  42. Patterson RE, Saquib N, Natarajan L, Rock CL, Parker BA, Thomson CA, Pierce JP. Improvement in self-reported physical health predicts longer survival among women with a history of breast cancer.  Breast Cancer Res Treat. 127(2):541-547, 2011.  [PMID: 21042931].
  43. Saquib N, Pierce JP, Saquib J, Flatt SW, Natarajan L, Bardwell WA, Patterson RE, Stefanick, Thomson CA, Rock CL, Jones L, Gold EB, Karanja N, Parker B. Poor physical health predicts time to additional breast cancer events and mortality in breast cancer survivors. Psychooncology. 20(3):252-259, 2011. [PMID: 20878837].
  44. Caan BJ, Natarajan L, Parker B, Gold EB, Thomson CA, Newman V, Rock CL, Pu M, Al-Delaimy W, Pierce JP. Soy food consumption and breast cancer prognosis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 20:854-858, 2011. [PMID: 21357380].
  45. Bertram LA, Stefanick M, Saquib N, Natarajan L, Patterson RE, Bardwell W, Flatt SW, Newman VA, Rock C, Thomson CA, Pierce JP. Physical activity, additional breast cancer events, and mortality among early stage breast cancer survivors: findings from the WHEL study. Cancer Causes Control. 22(3):426-435, 2011. [PMID: 21184262].
  46. Patterson RE, Flatt SW, Newman VA, Natarajan L, Rock CL, Thomson CA, Caan BJ, Parker BA, Pierce JP. Marine fatty acid intake is associated with breast cancer prognosis. J Nutr. 141(2):201-206, 2011. [PMID: 21178081].
  47. Thomson CA, Rock CL, Thompson PA, Caan BJ, Cussler EC, Flatt SW, Pierce JP. Vegetable Intake is associated with reduced breast cancer recurrence in tamoxifen users: A secondary analysis from the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 125(2): 519-527, 2011. [PMID: 20607600].
  48. Jacobs ET, Thomson CA, Flatt SW, Al-Delaimy W, Hibler EA, Jones LA, LeRoy EC, Newman VA, Parker BA, Rock CL, Pierce JP. Vitamin D and breast cancer recurrence in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 93(1):108-117, 2011. [PMID: 20980485].
  49. Stendell-Hollis NR, Thomson CA, Thompson PA, Bea JW, Cussler EC, Hakim IA. Green tea improves metabolic biomarkers, not weight or body composition: a pilot study in overweight breast cancer survivors. J Hum Nutr Dietetics. 23(6):590-600, 2010. [PMID: 20807303].
  50. Thomson CA, Stopeck A, Bea J, Cussler E, Nardi E, Frey G, Thompson P. Changes in Body Weight and metabolic indexes in overweight breast cancer survivors enrolled in a randomized trial of low-fat versus reduced carbohydrate diets. Nutr Cancer. 62(8):1142-1152, 2010. [PMID: 21058203].
  51. Patterson RE, Flatt SW, Saquib N, Rock CL, Caan BJ, Parker BA, Laughlin GA, Erickson K, Thomson CA, Bardwell WA, Hajek RA, Pierce JP. Medical comorbidities predict mortality in women with a history of early stage breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 122(3):859-865, 2010. [PMID: 20077000].
  52. Flatt SW, Thomson CA, Gold EB, Natarajan L, Rock CL, Al-Delaimy W, Patterson RE, Saquib N, Caan BJ, Pierce JP. Low to moderate alcohol intake is not associated with increased mortality after breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 19(3):681-688, 2010. [PMID: 20160253].
  53. Miller JA, Hakim IA, Chew WM, Thompson PA, Thomson CA, Chow HH. Adipose tissue accumulation of d-limonene with the consumption of a lemonade preparation rich in d-limonene content. Nutr Cancer. 62(6):783-788, 2010. [PMID: 20661827].
  54. De Roos AJ, Ulrich CM, Ray RM, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Rosenberg CA, Caan B, Thomson CA, McTiernan A, Lacroix A. Intentional weight loss and  risk of lymphohematopoietic cancers. Cancer Causes Control. 21(2):223-236, 2010. [PMID: 19851877].

Professional Information

Other Experience and Professional Memberships/Affiliations: 
American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
American Public Health Association
American Society for Nutritional Sciences
American Society for Nutrition (ASN) (this includes ASNS, ASCN, SINR)
American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO)
Arizona Dietetic Association
Society of Nutrition Education
Southern Arizona District Dietetic Association.
Board Certifications & Licenses: 

Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition

Academic Information

Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Master's Degree: 
MS, Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Undergraduate School: 
BS, Family & Consumer Resources/Dietetics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV