Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson

Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson
Professional Title: 
Associate Professor
Campus Address: 
409 Arnold House

A.B.mcl., Harvard College, 1994; S.M., Harvard School of Public Health, 1996;
Sc.D., Harvard School of Public Health, 1999; Postdoctoral, Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Public Health, 2000-2001

Area(s) of Specialization: 

Nutritional Epidemiology; Women’s Health; Vitamin D

Research Description: 

I am currently investigating how a variety of factors affect the development of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a condition that affect up to 20% of reproductive age women. We have established the Premenstrual Syndrome Sub-Study within the Nurses’ Health Study 2, an ongoing longitudinal epidemiologic study of women’s health. To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study of risk factors for PMS and the largest, most comprehensive study conducted to date. We have observed:

  • Dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium reduced risk of incident PMS by 30-40%.
  • Smoking was positively associated with the development of PMS, with heavy smokers experiencing a 2.5-fold higher risk than never smoked.
  • Alcohol use was not strongly associated with increased risk of PMS or PMDD.
  • Obese women (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2) had a significant 60% increase in risk compared with lean women (BMI < 20.0 kg/m2).
  • High intake of certain B vitamins from food sources, particularly thiamine and riboflavin, were associated with 25-35% lower risk of PMS.

While we have learned a great deal from our initial work, additional studies of how dietary, lifestyle, hormonal and genetic factors interact in these debilitating conditions are essential.

Key Publications: 

Bertone-Johnson ER, Chocano-Bedoya PO, Zagarins SE, Micka AE, Ronnenberg AG. Dietary vitamin D intake, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels, and premenstrual syndrome in a college-aged population. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2010;121:434-437. (PMID:20398756)

Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Johnson SR, Manson JE. Cigarette smoking and the development of premenstrual syndrome. Am J Epidemiol 2008;168:938-45. (PMCID:PMC2727205)

Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Bendich A, Johnson SR, Willett WC, Manson JE. Calcium and vitamin D intake and risk of incident premenstrual syndrome. Arch Intern Med 2005;165:1246-52. (PMID:15956003)

Chocano-Bedoya P, Manson JE, Ronnenberg A, Hankinson SE, Chasan-Taber L, Bigelow C, Johnson SR, Bertone-Johnson ER. B-complex vitamins and incident premenstrual syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93:1080-6. (PMCID:PMC3076657)

Bertone-Johnson ER, Hankinson SE, Johnson SR, Willett WC, Manson JE. Adiposity and the development of premenstrual syndrome. J Women’s Health 2010;19:1955-1962. (PMCID:PMC2971655)

Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson Curriculum Vitae