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1.  Mortality among contraceptive pill users: cohort evidence from Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study 
Objective To see if the mortality risk among women who have used oral contraceptives differs from that of never users.
Design Prospective cohort study started in 1968 with mortality data supplied by participating general practitioners, National Health Service central registries, or both.
Setting 1400 general practices throughout the United Kingdom.
Participants 46 112 women observed for up to 39 years, resulting in 378 006 woman years of observation among never users of oral contraception and 819 175 among ever users.
Main outcome measures Directly standardised adjusted relative risks between never and ever users for all cause and cause specific mortality.
Results 1747 deaths occurred in never users of oral contraception and 2864 in ever users. Compared with never users, ever users of oral contraception had a significantly lower rate of death from any cause (adjusted relative risk 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.82 to 0.93). They also had significantly lower rates of death from all cancers; large bowel/rectum, uterine body, and ovarian cancer; main gynaecological cancers combined; all circulatory disease; ischaemic heart disease; and all other diseases. They had higher rates of violent deaths. No association between overall mortality and duration of oral contraceptive use was observed, although some disease specific relations were apparent. An increased relative risk of death from any cause between ever users and never users was observed in women aged under 45 years who had stopped using oral contraceptives 5-9 years previously but not in those with more distant use. The estimated absolute reduction in all cause mortality among ever users of oral contraception was 52 per 100 000 woman years.
Conclusion Oral contraception was not associated with an increased long term risk of death in this large UK cohort; indeed, a net benefit was apparent. The balance of risks and benefits, however, may vary globally, depending on patterns of oral contraception usage and background risk of disease.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c927
PMCID: PMC2837145  PMID: 20223876
2.  Mortality associated with oral contraceptive use: 25 year follow up of cohort of 46 000 women from Royal College of General Practitioners’ oral contraception study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7176):96-100.
Objective
To describe the long term effects of the use of oral contraceptives on mortality.
Design
Cohort study with 25 year follow up. Details of oral contraceptive use and of morbidity and mortality were reported six monthly by general practitioners. 75% of the original cohort was “flagged” on the NHS central registers.
Setting
1400 general practices throughout Britain.
Subjects
46 000 women, half of whom were using oral contraceptives at recruitment in 1968-9. Median age at end of follow up was 49 years.
Main outcome measures
Relative risks of death adjusted for age, parity, social class, and smoking.
Results
Over the 25 year follow up 1599 deaths were reported. Over the entire period of follow up the risk of death from all causes was similar in ever users and never users of oral contraceptives (relative risk=1.0, 95% confidence interval 0.9 to 1.1; P=0.7) and the risk of death for most specific causes did not differ significantly in the two groups. However, among current and recent (within 10 years) users the relative risk of death from ovarian cancer was 0.2 (0.1 to 0.8; P=0.01), from cervical cancer 2.5 (1.1 to 6.1; P=0.04), and from cerebrovascular disease 1.9 (1.2 to 3.1, P=0.009). By contrast, for women who had stopped use ⩾10 years previously there were no significant excesses or deficits either overall or for any specific cause of death.
Conclusion
Oral contraceptives seem to have their main effect on mortality while they are being used and in the 10 years after use ceases. Ten or more years after use ceases mortality in past users is similar to that in never users.
Key messagesThis 25 year follow up of 46 000 UK women found a decrease in mortality from ovarian cancer and an increase in mortality from circulatory diseases and cervical cancer among women were using oral contraceptives or had used them in the past 10 years10 or more years after stopping use mortality was similar in past users and never usersOral contraceptives seem to have their main effect on mortality mainly while they are being used and in the 10 years after stopping useThere is little evidence to suggest any persistent adverse effect 10 or more years after use of oral contraceptives ceases
PMCID: PMC27684  PMID: 9880284
3.  Increased mortality among women with Rose angina who have not presented with ischaemic heart disease. 
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the clinical importance of disease that is not presented to healthcare services. AIM: To determine the 5-year mortality among those with angina symptoms, known or not known by their general practitioner (GP) to have ischaemic heart disease (IHD). DESIGN: A prospective cohort study. SETTING: The study was conducted in the United Kingdom as part of the Royal College of General Practitioners' Oral Contraception Study. METHOD: In 1994-1995 women (n = 11,797) still under GP observation were sent a questionnaire that inquired about their smoking habits, other lifestyle issues, general health, and selected symptoms (including chest pain, assessed using the Rose angina questionnaire). The main outcome measure was the chances (odds) of dying during the next 5 years, among those with and without exertional chest pain, Rose angina or Rose myocardial infarction (MI), stratified by documented history of IHD. RESULTS: Overall, the lifetime prevalence of any exertional chest pain was 10.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 9.5 to 10.8); grade I Rose angina was 6.1% (95% CI = 5.6 to 6.6); grade II Rose angina was 1.3% (95% CI = 1.1 to 1.6); and Rose MI was 4.4% (95% CI = 4.0 to 4.9). The prevalence of each condition tended to increase with age, social class, parity, body mass index, and documented history of IHD. The proportion of women documented as having IHD was 23% among those with any exertional chest pain, 21.7% for grade I Rose angina, 37.7% for grade II Rose angina, and 31.4% for Rose MI. Compared to women without Rose angina, significantly higher odds ratios for all-cause mortality were observed among women with grade I Rose angina and no documented history of IHD (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.05 to 2.79); those with grade II Rose angina and documented IHD (AOR = 3.94, 95% CI = 1.58 to 9.83); and women with grade II Rose angina and no documented history of IHD (AOR = 3.35, 95% CI = 1.47 to 7.62). CONCLUSIONS: Women with angina symptoms that have not been documented by their GP appear to have an increased risk of future mortality. Research is needed to determine the best way of identifying and managing these individuals.
PMCID: PMC1314711  PMID: 14601354
4.  Impact of lifestyle in middle-aged women on mortality: evidence from the Royal College of General Practitioners' Oral Contraception Study 
Background
Although many individuals have multiple lifestyle risk factors, few studies have investigated the impact of lifestyle risk factor combinations among women.
Aim
To investigate the relationship between individual and combinations of lifestyle risk factors in middle-aged women with subsequent mortality, and to estimate the associated population attributable risks.
Design of study
Prospective cohort study.
Setting
Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP) Oral Contraception Study, UK.
Method
In 1994–1995, women remaining under follow-up in the RCGP Oral Contraception Study were sent a lifestyle survey, from which modifiable risk factors were identified: pack-years smoked, physical inactivity, never drinking versus consuming at least 7 units of alcohol weekly, and being underweight, overweight, or obese. The cohort was followed to December 2006 or death. Population attributable risks were calculated.
Results
Of 10 059 women studied, 896 died. Pack-years smoked (11–20 years: adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 1.82, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.46 to 2.27; >20 years: adjusted HR = 2.34, 95% CI = 2.00 to 2.74); never drinking alcohol (adjusted HR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.34 to 2.05); being underweight (adjusted = HR 1.66, 95% CI = 1.03 to 2.68); and physical inactivity (<15 hours/week: adjusted HR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.46 to 2.04) were significantly associated with mortality compared with their respective reference group. Women with multiple lifestyle risk factors had higher mortality risks than those reporting one factor. The population attributable risk of the combination of smoking, physical inactivity, body mass index outside normal range, and alcohol (never drinking or excess intake) was 59% (95% CI = 31% to 78%).
Conclusion
Assuming a causal relationship between lifestyle and mortality, avoidance of four lifestyle risk factors would have prevented 60% of the deaths. The importance of avoiding smoking and undertaking physical inactivity during midlife should continue to be emphasised.
doi:10.3399/bjgp10X515052
PMCID: PMC2913736  PMID: 20822689
epidemiology; follow-up studies; lifestyle; mortality; women
5.  Ovarian Cancer and Body Size: Individual Participant Meta-Analysis Including 25,157 Women with Ovarian Cancer from 47 Epidemiological Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001200.
A reanalysis of published and unpublished data from epidemiological studies examines the association between height, body mass index, and the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Background
Only about half the studies that have collected information on the relevance of women's height and body mass index to their risk of developing ovarian cancer have published their results, and findings are inconsistent. Here, we bring together the worldwide evidence, published and unpublished, and describe these relationships.
Methods and Findings
Individual data on 25,157 women with ovarian cancer and 81,311 women without ovarian cancer from 47 epidemiological studies were collected, checked, and analysed centrally. Adjusted relative risks of ovarian cancer were calculated, by height and by body mass index.
Ovarian cancer risk increased significantly with height and with body mass index, except in studies using hospital controls. For other study designs, the relative risk of ovarian cancer per 5 cm increase in height was 1.07 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–1.09; p<0.001); this relationship did not vary significantly by women's age, year of birth, education, age at menarche, parity, menopausal status, smoking, alcohol consumption, having had a hysterectomy, having first degree relatives with ovarian or breast cancer, use of oral contraceptives, or use of menopausal hormone therapy. For body mass index, there was significant heterogeneity (p<0.001) in the findings between ever-users and never-users of menopausal hormone therapy, but not by the 11 other factors listed above. The relative risk for ovarian cancer per 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index was 1.10 (95% CI, 1.07–1.13; p<0.001) in never-users and 0.95 (95% CI, 0.92–0.99; p = 0.02) in ever-users of hormone therapy.
Conclusions
Ovarian cancer is associated with height and, among never-users of hormone therapy, with body mass index. In high-income countries, both height and body mass index have been increasing in birth cohorts now developing the disease. If all other relevant factors had remained constant, then these increases in height and weight would be associated with a 3% increase in ovarian cancer incidence per decade.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Cancer of the ovaries, usually referred to as ovarian cancer, is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women, and, unfortunately, symptoms (such as abdominal pain and swelling) usually occur late in the disease process; fewer than one-third of ovarian cancers are detected before they have spread outside of the ovaries. There is no definitive evidence that screening reduces mortality from ovarian cancer, and given the poor prognosis of advanced ovarian cancer, there has been much research over recent years to increase understanding of this serious condition. There are recognized risk factors that increase the chance of developing ovarian cancer, such as increasing age, having fewer children, not having used oral contraceptives, and use of menopausal hormone therapy. Age and oral contraceptive use have by far the biggest impact on ovarian cancer risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
To date, there is no definitive information about the relevance of women's height, weight, and body mass index to their subsequent risk of developing ovarian cancer. There have been roughly 50 epidemiological studies of ovarian cancer, but only about half of these studies have published results on the association between body size and ovarian cancer risk, and so far, these findings have been inconsistent. Therefore, the researchers—an international collaboration of researchers studying ovarian cancer—re-analyzed the available epidemiological evidence to investigate the relationship between ovarian cancer risk and adult height, weight, and body mass index, and to examine the consistency of the findings across study designs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
After an extensive literature search, the researchers identified 47 eligible studies that collected individual data on women's reproductive history, use of hormonal therapies, height, weight, and/or body mass index, and in which the principal investigators of each study accepted the invitation from the researchers to be involved in the re-analysis. The researchers combined data from the different studies. To ensure that women in one study were only directly compared with controls (similar women without ovarian cancer) in the same study, all analyses were routinely stratified by study, center within study, age, parity, use of oral contraceptives, use of hormonal therapy for menopause, and menopausal status or hysterectomy.
The 47 studies were conducted in 14 countries and comprised a total of 25,157 women with ovarian cancer (mostly from Europe and North America) and 81,311 women without ovarian cancer. The researchers found a significant increase in relative risk (1.07) of ovarian cancer per 5 cm increase in height. Furthermore, this risk did not vary depending on other studied factors—age, year of birth, education, age at menarche, parity, menopausal status, smoking, alcohol consumption, having had a hysterectomy, having first degree relatives with ovarian or breast cancer, use of oral contraceptives, or use of menopausal hormone therapy. However, the researchers found that for body mass index, the risks depended on whether women had ever taken menopausal hormone therapy: the relative risk for ovarian cancer per 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index was 1.10 in women who had never taken menopausal hormone therapy but was only 0.95 in women who had previously taken menopausal hormone therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that increasing height can be considered as a risk factor for ovarian cancer and that in women who have never taken menopausal hormone therapy, increased body mass index can be considered an additional risk factor. These findings have public health implications, especially in high-income countries, because the average height of women has increased by about 1 cm per decade and average body mass index has increased by about 1 kg/m2 per decade. The findings suggest an associated increase in ovarian cancer incidence of 3% per decade if all other factors relevant for ovarian cancer remain constant.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001200.
The following organizations give more information on ovarian cancer which may be of use to patients: MedicineNet, the US National Cancer Institute, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Macmillan Cancer Support
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001200
PMCID: PMC3317899  PMID: 22606070
6.  Uterine Rupture by Intended Mode of Delivery in the UK: A National Case-Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001184.
A case-control study using UK data estimates the risk of uterine rupture in subsequent deliveries amongst women who have had a previous caesarean section.
Background
Recent reports of the risk of morbidity due to uterine rupture are thought to have contributed in some countries to a decrease in the number of women attempting a vaginal birth after caesarean section. The aims of this study were to estimate the incidence of true uterine rupture in the UK and to investigate and quantify the associated risk factors and outcomes, on the basis of intended mode of delivery.
Methods and Findings
A UK national case-control study was undertaken between April 2009 and April 2010. The participants comprised 159 women with uterine rupture and 448 control women with a previous caesarean delivery. The estimated incidence of uterine rupture was 0.2 per 1,000 maternities overall; 2.1 and 0.3 per 1,000 maternities in women with a previous caesarean delivery planning vaginal or elective caesarean delivery, respectively. Amongst women with a previous caesarean delivery, odds of rupture were also increased in women who had ≥ two previous caesarean deliveries (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.02, 95% CI 1.16–7.85) and <12 months since their last caesarean delivery (aOR 3.12, 95% CI 1.62–6.02). A higher risk of rupture with labour induction and oxytocin use was apparent (aOR 3.92, 95% CI 1.00–15.33). Two women with uterine rupture died (case fatality 1.3%, 95% CI 0.2–4.5%). There were 18 perinatal deaths associated with uterine rupture among 145 infants (perinatal mortality 124 per 1,000 total births, 95% CI 75–189).
Conclusions
Although uterine rupture is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, even amongst women with a previous caesarean section planning a vaginal delivery, it is a rare occurrence. For women with a previous caesarean section, risk of uterine rupture increases with number of previous caesarean deliveries, a short interval since the last caesarean section, and labour induction and/or augmentation. These factors should be considered when counselling and managing the labour of women with a previous caesarean section.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Uterine rupture is a serious complication of pregnancy in which the wall of the uterus (womb) tears during pregnancy or early labor. Signs and symptoms of uterine rupture include fetal heart rate abnormalities, abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding. If uterine rupture happens during labor, the woman must have an immediate caesarean section (surgical delivery of her baby) to save both her life and that of her baby. The woman's womb and nearby organs can be damaged at rupture or removed during surgery and she may need a blood transfusion because of severe bleeding. Moreover, her baby may develop respiratory distress syndrome and other life-threatening complications. In high income countries, uterine rupture most commonly occurs in women who have delivered a previous pregnancy by caesarean section. In a caesarean section, the baby is delivered through a cut made through the abdominal wall and the uterine wall. The stretching that occurs during pregnancy or the strong contractions of labor can tear the scar left by this cut, resulting in uterine rupture.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women who have had a caesarean delivery are generally encouraged to try to deliver subsequent babies vaginally. However, recent reports of an increased risk of complications (morbidity) and death (mortality) due to uterine rupture are thought to reduce women's willingness to attempt vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) in some countries. In the UK, for example, where one in four babies is delivered by caesarean section, a previous caesarean delivery is one of commonest reasons for a repeat section. Obstetricians (doctors who care for women during child birth) need to know as much as possible about the incidence of uterine rupture and about the risk factors for it so that they can advise women who have had a previous caesarean section about their delivery options. In this national case-control study (a study that compares the characteristics of people with and without a specific condition), the researchers estimate the incidence of uterine rupture in the UK by intended mode of delivery and investigate and quantify the risk factors for and outcomes of uterine rupture.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) to identify all the women in the UK who had a uterine rupture over a 13-month period (159 women, 139 of whom had had a previous caesarean delivery). Controls for the study were women who had not had a uterine rupture but who had previously delivered by caesarean section. Overall, the incidence of uterine rupture was 0.2 per 1,000 maternities. In women with a previous caesarean delivery, 2.1 and 0.3 per 1,000 maternities ended in uterine rupture in women planning vaginal delivery and caesarean delivery, respectively. Amongst women who had had a previous caesarean delivery, the risk of uterine rupture was greater among those who had had two or more previous caesarean deliveries or a caesarean delivery less than 12 months previously, or whose labor was induced. Two women died following uterine rupture (a case fatality of 1.3%) and 18 babies died around the time of birth (a perinatal mortality rate of 124 per 1,000 live births; the UK perinatal mortality rate is 7.5 per 1,000 live births). 15 of the women who had a uterine rupture had their womb removed, 10 had other organs damaged, and nearly half had other complications; 19 of the surviving babies had health problems.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the UK, although uterine rupture is associated with significant mortality and morbidity, it is a rare occurrence even among women who have had a previous caesarean delivery and are planning a vaginal delivery. They also indicate that, for women who have previously had a caesarean section, the risk of rupture increases with the number of previous caesarean deliveries, with a short interval since the last caesarean section, and with labor induction. Although the researchers may not have identified all the women who had a uterine rupture during the study period or may have identified only the worst cases, these findings provide valuable information about the factors that obstetricians need to consider when advising women who have previously had a caesarean section and when managing their labor.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001184.
This study is linked to a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Caroline Crowther and a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Catherine Spong
Wikipedia has a page on uterine rupture (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has information sheets for patients on caesarean sections and on vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK has information for women on birth after previous caesarean
Childbirth Connection, a US-based not-for-profit organization, provides information about caesarean sections and about vaginal birth after caesarean
The National Childbirth Trust, a UK charity, provides information for parents on all aspects of pregnancy and birth, including caesarean sections and vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories from women making decisions about birth after a caesarean section
A personal story of uterine rupture during an attempted VBAC is available
The UK Obstetric Surveillance System studies rare disorders of pregnancy in the UK
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001184
PMCID: PMC3302846  PMID: 22427745
7.  Mortality among oral contraceptive users: 20 year follow up of women in a cohort study. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1989;299(6714):1487-1491.
OBJECTIVE--To see whether the use of oral contraceptives influences mortality. DESIGN--Non-randomised cohort study of 17,032 women followed up on an annual basis for an average of nearly 16 years. SETTING--17 Family planning clinics in England and Scotland. SUBJECTS--Women recruited during 1968-74. At the time of recruitment each woman was aged 25-39, married, a white British subject, willing to participate, and either a current user of oral contraceptives or a current user of a diaphragm or intrauterine device (without previous exposure to the pill). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Overall mortality and cause specific mortality. RESULTS--238 Deaths occurred during the follow up period. The main analyses concerned women entering the study while using either oral contraceptives or a diaphragm or intrauterine device. The overall relative risk of death in the oral contraceptive users was 0.9 (95% confidence interval 0.7 to 1.2). Though the numbers of deaths were small in most individual disease categories, the trends observed were generally consistent with findings in other reports. Thus the relative risk of death in the oral contraceptive users was 4.9 (95% confidence interval 0.7 to 230) for cancer of the cervix, 3.3 (95% confidence interval 0.9 to 17.9) for ischaemic heart disease, and 0.4 (95% confidence interval 0.1 to 1.2) for ovarian cancer. There was a linear trend in the death rates from cervical cancer and ovarian cancer (in opposite directions) with total duration of oral contraceptive use. Death rates from breast cancer (relative risk 0.9; 95% confidence interval 0.5 to 1.4) and suicide and probable suicide (relative risk 1.1; 95% confidence interval 0.3 to 3.6) were much the same in the two contraceptive groups. In 1981 the relative risk of death in oral contraceptive users from circulatory diseases as a group was reported to be 4.2 (95% confidence interval 2.3 to 7.7) in the Royal College of General Practitioners oral contraception study. The corresponding relative risk in this study was only 1.5 (95% confidence interval 0.7 to 3.0). CONCLUSIONS--These findings contain no significant evidence of any overall effect of oral contraceptive use on mortality. None the less, only small numbers of deaths occurred during the study period and a significant adverse (or beneficial) overall effect might emerge in the future. Interestingly, the mortality from circulatory disease associated with oral contraceptive use was substantially less than that found in the Royal College of General Practitioners study.
PMCID: PMC1838344  PMID: 2514858
8.  Hormonal Contraception and the Risk of HIV Acquisition: An Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(1):e1001778.
In a meta-analysis of individual participant data, Charles Morrison and colleagues explore the association between hormonal contraception use and risk of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
Background
Observational studies of a putative association between hormonal contraception (HC) and HIV acquisition have produced conflicting results. We conducted an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis of studies from sub-Saharan Africa to compare the incidence of HIV infection in women using combined oral contraceptives (COCs) or the injectable progestins depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) or norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN) with women not using HC.
Methods and Findings
Eligible studies measured HC exposure and incident HIV infection prospectively using standardized measures, enrolled women aged 15–49 y, recorded ≥15 incident HIV infections, and measured prespecified covariates. Our primary analysis estimated the adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) using two-stage random effects meta-analysis, controlling for region, marital status, age, number of sex partners, and condom use. We included 18 studies, including 37,124 women (43,613 woman-years) and 1,830 incident HIV infections. Relative to no HC use, the aHR for HIV acquisition was 1.50 (95% CI 1.24–1.83) for DMPA use, 1.24 (95% CI 0.84–1.82) for NET-EN use, and 1.03 (95% CI 0.88–1.20) for COC use. Between-study heterogeneity was mild (I2 < 50%). DMPA use was associated with increased HIV acquisition compared with COC use (aHR 1.43, 95% CI 1.23–1.67) and NET-EN use (aHR 1.32, 95% CI 1.08–1.61). Effect estimates were attenuated for studies at lower risk of methodological bias (compared with no HC use, aHR for DMPA use 1.22, 95% CI 0.99–1.50; for NET-EN use 0.67, 95% CI 0.47–0.96; and for COC use 0.91, 95% CI 0.73–1.41) compared to those at higher risk of bias (pinteraction = 0.003). Neither age nor herpes simplex virus type 2 infection status modified the HC–HIV relationship.
Conclusions
This IPD meta-analysis found no evidence that COC or NET-EN use increases women’s risk of HIV but adds to the evidence that DMPA may increase HIV risk, underscoring the need for additional safe and effective contraceptive options for women at high HIV risk. A randomized controlled trial would provide more definitive evidence about the effects of hormonal contraception, particularly DMPA, on HIV risk.
Editors’ Summary
Background
AIDS has killed about 36 million people since the first recorded case of the disease in 1981. About 35 million people (including 25 million living in sub-Saharan Africa) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and every year, another 2.3 million people become newly infected with HIV. At the beginning of the epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV. Now, about half of all adults infected with HIV are women. In 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15–24 years occurred among women, and it is estimated that, worldwide, 50 young women are newly infected with HIV every hour. Most women become infected with HIV through unprotected intercourse with an infected male partner—biologically, women are twice as likely to become infected through unprotected intercourse as men. A woman’s risk of becoming infected with HIV can be reduced by abstaining from sex, by having one or a few partners, and by always using condoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women and societies both benefit from effective contraception. When contraception is available, women can avoid unintended pregnancies, fewer women and babies die during pregnancy and childbirth, and maternal and infant health improves. However, some (but not all) observational studies (investigations that measure associations between the characteristics of participants and their subsequent development of specific diseases) have reported an association between hormonal contraceptive use and an increased risk of HIV acquisition by women. So, does hormonal contraception increase the risk of HIV acquisition among women or not? Here, to investigate this question, the researchers undertake an individual participant data meta-analysis of studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa (a region where both HIV infection and unintended pregnancies are common) to compare the incidence of HIV infection (the number of new cases in a population during a given time period) among women using and not using hormonal contraception. Meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the results of several studies; an individual participant data meta-analysis combines the data recorded for each individual involved in the studies rather than the aggregated results from each study.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers included 18 studies that measured hormonal contraceptive use and incident HIV infection among women aged 15–49 years living in sub-Saharan Africa in their meta-analysis. More than 37,000 women took part in these studies, and 1,830 became newly infected with HIV. Half of the women were not using hormonal contraception, a quarter were using depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA; an injectable hormonal contraceptive), and the remainder were using combined oral contraceptives (COCs) or norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN, another injectable contraceptive). After adjustment for other factors likely to influence HIV acquisition (for example, condom use), women using DMPA had a 1.5-fold increased risk of HIV acquisition compared to women not using hormonal contraception. There was a slightly increased risk of HIV acquisition among women using NET-EN compared to women not using hormonal contraception, but this increase was not statistically significant (it may have happened by chance alone). There was no increased risk of HIV acquisition associated with COC use. DMPA use was associated with a 1.43-fold and 1.32-fold increased risk of HIV acquisition compared with COC and NET-EN use, respectively. Finally, neither age nor herpes simplex virus 2 infection status modified the effect of hormonal contraceptive use on HIV acquisition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this individual patient data meta-analysis provide no evidence that COC or NET-EN use increases a woman’s risk of acquiring HIV, but add to the evidence suggesting that DMPA use increases the risk of HIV acquisition. These findings are likely to be more accurate than those of previous meta-analyses that used aggregated data but are likely to be limited by the quality, design, and representativeness of the studies included in the analysis. These findings nevertheless highlight the need to develop additional safe and effective contraceptive options for women at risk of HIV, particularly those living in sub-Saharan Africa, where although contraceptive use is generally low, DMPA is the most widely used hormonal contraceptive. In addition, these findings highlight the need to initiate randomized controlled trials to provide more definitive evidence of the effects of hormonal contraception, particularly DMPA, on HIV risk.
Additional Information.
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001778.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, including personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS and a news report on this meta-analysis
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on women, HIV, and AIDS, and on HIV and AIDS in South Africa (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS (in several languages); information about a 2012 WHO technical consultation about hormonal contraception and HIV
The 2013 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it; UNAIDS also provides information about HIV and hormonal contraception
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001778
PMCID: PMC4303292  PMID: 25612136
9.  Injectable and Oral Contraceptive Use and Cancers of the Breast, Cervix, Ovary, and Endometrium in Black South African Women: Case–Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001182.
A case-control study conducted in South Africa provides new estimates of the risk of specific cancers of the female reproductive system associated with use of injectable and oral contraceptives.
Background
Oral contraceptives are known to influence the risk of cancers of the female reproductive system. Evidence regarding the relationship between injectable contraceptives and these cancers is limited, especially in black South Africans, among whom injectable contraceptives are used more commonly than oral contraceptives.
Methods and Findings
We analysed data from a South African hospital-based case–control study of black females aged 18–79 y, comparing self-reported contraceptive use in patients with breast (n = 1,664), cervical (n = 2,182), ovarian (n = 182), and endometrial (n = 182) cancer, with self-reported contraceptive use in 1,492 control patients diagnosed with cancers with no known relationship to hormonal contraceptive use. We adjusted for potential confounding factors, including age, calendar year of diagnosis, education, smoking, alcohol, parity/age at first birth, and number of sexual partners. Among controls, 26% had used injectable and 20% had used oral contraceptives. For current and more recent users versus never users of oral or injectable contraceptives, the odds ratios (ORs) for breast cancer were significantly increased in users of oral and/or injectable contraceptives (OR 1.66, 95% CI 1.28–2.16, p<0.001) and separately among those exclusively using oral (1.57, 1.03–2.40, p = 0.04) and exclusively using injectable (OR 1.83, 1.31–2.55, p<0.001) contraceptives; corresponding ORs for cervical cancer were 1.38 (1.08–1.77, p = 0.01), 1.01 (0.66–1.56, p = 0.96), and 1.58 (1.16–2.15, p = 0.004). There was no significant increase in breast or cervical cancer risk among women ceasing hormonal contraceptive use ≥10 y previously (p = 0.3 and p = 0.9, respectively). For durations of use ≥5 y versus never use, the ORs of ovarian cancer were 0.60 (0.36–0.99, p = 0.04) for oral and/or injectable contraceptive use and 0.07 (0.01–0.49, p = 0.008) for injectable use exclusively; corresponding ORs for endometrial cancer were 0.44 (0.22–0.86, p = 0.02) and 0.36 (0.11–1.26, p = 0.1).
Conclusions
In this study, use of oral and of injectable hormonal contraceptives was associated with a transiently increased risk of breast and cervical cancer and, for long durations of use, with a reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. The observed effects of injectable and of oral contraceptives on cancer risk in this study did not appear to differ substantially.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Hormonal contraceptives are among the most commonly used medications. Globally, more than 210 million women currently use either hormonal contraceptive pills or injectable contraceptives. Contraceptive pills usually contain manmade versions of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone (the combined oral contraceptive, or “pill”); most injectable hormonal contraceptives contain only manmade progesterone preparations. Hormonal contraceptives, which prevent pregnancy by disrupting the cyclical changes in estrogen and progesterone levels that prepare the body for pregnancy, have revolutionized birth control since they first became available in the early 1960s. However, it is now known that taking the pill also influences women's risk of developing cancers of the female reproductive system. Current and recent users have an increased risk of developing breast and cervical cancer (the cervix is the structure that connects the womb to the vagina) compared to never users, although this increased risk quickly disappears when women stop taking the pill. By contrast, women who have used the pill have a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer and cancer of the womb (endometrial cancer) compared to never users that increases with the duration of pill use and persists for many years after use ceases. These effects on reproductive system cancers are thought to occur because these cancers depend on naturally occurring sex hormones for their development and growth.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the evidence that the pill influences the risk of developing cancers of the female reproductive system is extensive, much less is known about how injectable hormonal contraceptives affect cancer risk. In this hospital-based case–control study (a study that compares the characteristics of people with and without a specific condition), the researchers investigate the relationship between the use of oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives and cancers of the breast, cervix, ovary, and endometrium among black South African women. Injectable contraceptives have been used for longer in South Africa than elsewhere and are used more commonly than oral contraceptives among black South African women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
As part of the Johannesburg Cancer Case Control Study, which recruits black patients attending Johannesburg public referral hospitals for cancer treatment, the researchers compared hormonal contraceptive use in women with breast, cervical, ovarian, or endometrial cancer with contraceptive use in women diagnosed with other cancers such as lung, colon, and rectal cancers, which are not known to be influenced by hormonal contraceptives. Among the controls, a quarter had used injectable contraceptives and a fifth had used oral contraceptives. After adjusting for other factors that might influence cancer risk such as age, smoking, and number of sexual partners, the odds ratio (OR) of breast cancer among current and recent users of oral and/or injectable contraceptives compared to never users was 1.66. That is, the risk of developing breast cancer among current and recent users of hormonal contraceptives was 1.66 times that among never users. For women using oral contraceptives exclusively or injectable contraceptives exclusively, the ORs of breast cancer were 1.57 and 1.83, respectively. There were also increases in cervical cancer risk among current and recent users of hormonal contraceptives compared to never users, but no significant increase in breast or cervical cancer risk among women who had ceased hormonal contraceptive use more than ten years previously. Finally, the use of hormonal contraceptives for more than five years reduced the risk of both ovarian and endometrial cancer.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among black women in South Africa, the use of oral or injectable hormonal contraceptives is associated with a transiently increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, and that extended use of these contraceptives is associated with a reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Moreover, they suggest that the effects of oral versus injectable contraceptives on cancer risk do not differ substantially, although for endometrial and ovarian cancer the small number of cases exposed to injectable contraceptives limits the accuracy of the risk estimates. Other limitations of this study include the possibility that the findings may be affected by uncontrolled confounding. That is, women who used hormonal contraceptives may have shared other unidentified characteristics that affected their cancer risk. Nevertheless, these findings provide new information about the effects of oral and injectable hormonal contraceptives on cancer risk that should help women make informed decisions about their choice of contraceptive method.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001182.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information on breast cancer (including personal stories from breast cancer survivors), cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer for patients and health professionals, and a fact sheet on oral contraceptives and cancer risk (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information on breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer and information about the birth control pill and cancer risk
Eyes on the Prize, an online support group for women who have had cancers of the female reproductive system, has personal stories; further personal stories about breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer are provided by the charity Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001182
PMCID: PMC3295825  PMID: 22412354
10.  The Reversal of Fortunes: Trends in County Mortality and Cross-County Mortality Disparities in the United States  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(4):e66.
Background
Counties are the smallest unit for which mortality data are routinely available, allowing consistent and comparable long-term analysis of trends in health disparities. Average life expectancy has steadily increased in the United States but there is limited information on long-term mortality trends in the US counties This study aimed to investigate trends in county mortality and cross-county mortality disparities, including the contributions of specific diseases to county level mortality trends.
Methods and Findings
We used mortality statistics (from the National Center for Health Statistics [NCHS]) and population (from the US Census) to estimate sex-specific life expectancy for US counties for every year between 1961 and 1999. Data for analyses in subsequent years were not provided to us by the NCHS. We calculated different metrics of cross-county mortality disparity, and also grouped counties on the basis of whether their mortality changed favorably or unfavorably relative to the national average. We estimated the probability of death from specific diseases for counties with above- or below-average mortality performance. We simulated the effect of cross-county migration on each county's life expectancy using a time-based simulation model. Between 1961 and 1999, the standard deviation (SD) of life expectancy across US counties was at its lowest in 1983, at 1.9 and 1.4 y for men and women, respectively. Cross-county life expectancy SD increased to 2.3 and 1.7 y in 1999. Between 1961 and 1983 no counties had a statistically significant increase in mortality; the major cause of mortality decline for both sexes was reduction in cardiovascular mortality. From 1983 to 1999, life expectancy declined significantly in 11 counties for men (by 1.3 y) and in 180 counties for women (by 1.3 y); another 48 (men) and 783 (women) counties had nonsignificant life expectancy decline. Life expectancy decline in both sexes was caused by increased mortality from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and a range of other noncommunicable diseases, which were no longer compensated for by the decline in cardiovascular mortality. Higher HIV/AIDS and homicide deaths also contributed substantially to life expectancy decline for men, but not for women. Alternative specifications of the effects of migration showed that the rise in cross-county life expectancy SD was unlikely to be caused by migration.
Conclusions
There was a steady increase in mortality inequality across the US counties between 1983 and 1999, resulting from stagnation or increase in mortality among the worst-off segment of the population. Female mortality increased in a large number of counties, primarily because of chronic diseases related to smoking, overweight and obesity, and high blood pressure.
Majid Ezzati and colleagues analyze US county-level mortality data for 1961 to 1999, and find a steady increase in mortality inequality across counties between 1983 and 1999.
Editors' Summary
Background.
It has long been recognized that the number of years that distinct groups of people in the United States would be expected to live based on their current mortality patterns (“life expectancy”) varies enormously. For example, white Americans tend to live longer than black Americans, the poor tend to have shorter life expectancies than the wealthy, and women tend to outlive men. Where one lives might also be a factor that determines his or her life expectancy, because of social conditions and health programs in different parts of the country.
Why Was the Study Done?
While life expectancies have generally been rising across the United States over time, there is little information, especially over the long term, on the differences in life expectancies across different counties. The researchers therefore set out to examine whether there were different life expectancies across different US counties over the last four decades. The researchers chose to look at counties—the smallest geographic units for which data on death rates are collected in the US—because it allowed them to make comparisons between small subgroups of people that share the same administrative structure.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers looked at differences in death rates between all counties in US states plus the District of Columbia over four decades, from 1961 to 1999. They obtained the data on number of deaths from the National Center for Health Statistics, and they obtained data on the number of people living in each county from the US Census. The NCHS did not provide death data after 2001. They broke the death rates down by sex and by disease to assess trends over time for women and men, and for different causes of death.
Over these four decades, the researchers found that the overall US life expectancy increased from 67 to 74 years of age for men and from 74 to 80 years for women. Between 1961 and 1983 the death rate fell in both men and women, largely due to reductions in deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). During this same period, 1961–1983, the differences in death rates among/across different counties fell. However, beginning in the early 1980s the differences in death rates among/across different counties began to increase. The worst-off counties no longer experienced a fall in death rates, and in a substantial number of counties, mortality actually increased, especially for women, a shift that the researchers call “the reversal of fortunes.” This stagnation in the worst-off counties was primarily caused by a slowdown or halt in the reduction of deaths from cardiovascular disease coupled with a moderate rise in a number of other diseases, such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes, in both men and women, and a rise in HIV/AIDS and homicide in men. The researchers' key finding, therefore, was that the differences in life expectancy across different counties initially narrowed and then widened.
What Do these Findings Mean?
The findings suggest that beginning in the early 1980s and continuing through 1999 those who were already disadvantaged did not benefit from the gains in life expectancy experienced by the advantaged, and some became even worse off. The study emphasizes how important it is to monitor health inequalities between different groups, in order to ensure that everyone—and not just the well-off—can experience gains in life expectancy. Although the “reversal of fortune” that the researchers found applied to only a minority of the population, the authors argue that their study results are troubling because an oft-stated aim of the US health system is the improvement of the health of “all people, and especially those at greater risk of health disparities” (see, for example http://www.cdc.gov/osi/goals/SIHPGPostcard.pdf).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050066.
A study by Nancy Krieger and colleagues, published in PLoS Medicine in February 2008, documented a similar “fall and rise” in health inequities. Krieger and colleagues reported that the difference in health between rich and poor and between different racial/ethnic groups, as measured by rates of dying young and of infant deaths, shrank in the US from 1966 to 1980 then widened from 1980 to 2002
Murray and colleagues, in a 2006 PLoS Medicine article, calculated US mortality rates according to “race-county” units and divided into the “eight Americas,” and found disparities in life expectancy across them
The US Centers for Disease Control has an Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. The office “aims to accelerate CDC's health impact in the US population and to eliminate health disparities for vulnerable populations as defined by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, gender, age, disability status, risk status related to sex and gender, and among other populations identified to be at-risk for health disparities”
Wikipedia has a chapter on health disparities (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
In 2001 the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sponsored a workshop on “strategies to reduce health disparities”
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050066
PMCID: PMC2323303  PMID: 18433290
11.  Cancer risk among users of oral contraceptives: cohort data from the Royal College of General Practitioner's oral contraception study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7621):651.
Objective To examine the absolute risks or benefits on cancer associated with oral contraception, using incident data.
Design Inception cohort study.
Setting Royal College of General Practitioners' oral contraception study.
Participants Directly standardised data from the Royal College of General Practitioners' oral contraception study.
Main outcome measures Adjusted relative risks between never and ever users of oral contraceptives for different types of cancer, main gynaecological cancers combined, and any cancer. Standardisation variables were age, smoking, parity, social class, and (for the general practitioner observation dataset) hormone replacement therapy. Subgroup analyses examined whether the relative risks changed with user characteristics, duration of oral contraception usage, and time since last use of oral contraception.
Results The main dataset contained about 339 000 woman years of observation for never users and 744 000 woman years for ever users. Compared with never users ever users had statistically significant lower rates of cancers of the large bowel or rectum, uterine body, and ovaries, tumours of unknown site, and other malignancies; main gynaecological cancers combined; and any cancer. The relative risk for any cancer in the smaller general practitioner observation dataset was not significantly reduced. Statistically significant trends of increasing risk of cervical and central nervous system or pituitary cancer, and decreasing risk of uterine body and ovarian malignancies, were seen with increasing duration of oral contraceptive use. Reduced relative risk estimates were observed for ovarian and uterine body cancer many years after stopping oral contraception, although some were not statistically significant. The estimated absolute rate reduction of any cancer among ever users was 45 or 10 per 100 000 woman years, depending on whether the main or general practitioner observation dataset was used.
Conclusion In this UK cohort, oral contraception was not associated with an overall increased risk of cancer; indeed it may even produce a net public health gain. The balance of cancer risks and benefits, however, may vary internationally, depending on patterns of oral contraception usage and the incidence of different cancers.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39289.649410.55
PMCID: PMC1995533  PMID: 17855280
12.  Risk Prediction for Breast, Endometrial, and Ovarian Cancer in White Women Aged 50 y or Older: Derivation and Validation from Population-Based Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001492.
Ruth Pfeiffer and colleagues describe models to calculate absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers for white, non-Hispanic women over 50 years old using easily obtainable risk factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers share some hormonal and epidemiologic risk factors. While several models predict absolute risk of breast cancer, there are few models for ovarian cancer in the general population, and none for endometrial cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50+ y from two large population-based cohorts (the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial [PLCO] and the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study [NIH-AARP]), we estimated relative and attributable risks and combined them with age-specific US-population incidence and competing mortality rates. All models included parity. The breast cancer model additionally included estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use, other MHT use, age at first live birth, menopausal status, age at menopause, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, benign breast disease/biopsies, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI); the endometrial model included menopausal status, age at menopause, BMI, smoking, oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and an interaction term between BMI and MHT use; the ovarian model included oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and family history or breast or ovarian cancer. In independent validation data (Nurses' Health Study cohort) the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated; expected to observed cancer ratios were 1.00 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96–1.04) for breast cancer and 1.08 (95% CI: 0.97–1.19) for ovarian cancer. The number of endometrial cancers was significantly overestimated, expected/observed = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.11–1.29). The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs; discriminatory power) were 0.58 (95% CI: 0.57–0.59), 0.59 (95% CI: 0.56–0.63), and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.66–0.70) for the breast, ovarian, and endometrial models, respectively.
Conclusions
These models predict absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers from easily obtainable risk factors and may assist in clinical decision-making. Limitations are the modest discriminatory ability of the breast and ovarian models and that these models may not generalize to women of other races.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, just three types of cancer accounted for 10% of global cancer-related deaths. That year, about 460,000 women died from breast cancer (the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death). Another 140,000 women died from ovarian cancer, and 74,000 died from endometrial (womb) cancer (the 14th and 20th most common causes of cancer-related death, respectively). Although these three cancers originate in different tissues, they nevertheless share many risk factors. For example, current age, age at menarche (first period), and parity (the number of children a woman has had) are all strongly associated with breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risk. Because these cancers share many hormonal and epidemiological risk factors, a woman with a high breast cancer risk is also likely to have an above-average risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several statistical models (for example, the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool) have been developed that estimate a woman's absolute risk (probability) of developing breast cancer over the next few years or over her lifetime. Absolute risk prediction models are useful in the design of cancer prevention trials and can also help women make informed decisions about cancer prevention and treatment options. For example, a woman at high risk of breast cancer might decide to take tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention, but ideally she needs to know her absolute endometrial cancer risk before doing so because tamoxifen increases the risk of this cancer. Similarly, knowledge of her ovarian cancer risk might influence a woman's decision regarding prophylactic removal of her ovaries to reduce her breast cancer risk. There are few absolute risk prediction models for ovarian cancer, and none for endometrial cancer, so here the researchers develop models to predict the risk of these cancers and of breast cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Absolute risk prediction models are constructed by combining estimates for risk factors from cohorts with population-based incidence rates from cancer registries. Models are validated in an independent cohort by testing their ability to identify people with the disease in an independent cohort and their ability to predict the observed numbers of incident cases. The researchers used data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older that were collected during two large prospective US cohort studies of cancer screening and of diet and health, and US cancer incidence and mortality rates provided by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program to build their models. The models all included parity as a risk factor, as well as other factors. The model for endometrial cancer, for example, also included menopausal status, age at menopause, body mass index (an indicator of the amount of body fat), oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, and an interaction term between menopausal hormone therapy use and body mass index. Individual women's risk for endometrial cancer calculated using this model ranged from 1.22% to 17.8% over the next 20 years depending on their exposure to various risk factors. Validation of the models using data from the US Nurses' Health Study indicated that the endometrial cancer model overestimated the risk of endometrial cancer but that the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated—the predicted and observed risks for these cancers in the validation cohort agreed closely. Finally, the discriminatory power of the models (a measure of how well a model separates people who have a disease from people who do not have the disease) was modest for the breast and ovarian cancer models but somewhat better for the endometrial cancer model.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer can all be predicted using information on known risk factors for these cancers that is easily obtainable. Because these models were constructed and validated using data from white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older, they may not accurately predict absolute risk for these cancers for women of other races or ethnicities. Moreover, the modest discriminatory power of the breast and ovarian cancer models means they cannot be used to decide which women should be routinely screened for these cancers. Importantly, however, these well-calibrated models should provide realistic information about an individual's risk of developing breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer that can be used in clinical decision-making and that may assist in the identification of potential participants for research studies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001492.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Lars Holmberg and Andrew Vickers
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer;
Information on the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and on the prospective cohort study of screening and the diet and health study that provided the data used to build the models is also available on the NCI site
Cancer Research UK, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer; the not-for-profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer and ovarian cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001492
PMCID: PMC3728034  PMID: 23935463
13.  Balloon Kyphoplasty 
Executive Summary
Objective
To review the evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
Clinical Need
Vertebral compression fractures are one of the most common types of osteoporotic fractures. They can lead to chronic pain and spinal deformity. They are caused when the vertebral body (the thick block of bone at the front of each vertebra) is too weak to support the loads of activities of daily living. Spinal deformity due to a collapsed vertebral body can substantially affect the quality of life of elderly people, who are especially at risk for osteoporotic fractures due to decreasing bone mass with age. A population-based study across 12 European centres recently found that VCFs have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Complications associated with VCFs are pulmonary dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of independence, and mental status change due to pain and the use of medications. Osteoporotic VCFs also are associated with a higher rate of death.
VCFs affect an estimated 25% of women over age 50 years and 40% of women over age 80 years. Only about 30% of these fractures are diagnosed in clinical practice. A Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study reported on the prevalence of vertebral deformity in Canada in people over 50 years of age. To define the limit of normality, they plotted a normal distribution, including mean and standard deviations (SDs) derived from a reference population without any deformity. They reported a prevalence rate of 23.5% in women and a rate of 21.5% in men, using 3 SDs from the mean as the limit of normality. When they used 4 SDs, the prevalence was 9.3% and 7.3%, respectively. They also found the prevalence of vertebral deformity increased with age. For people older than 80 years of age, the prevalence for women and men was 45% and 36%, respectively, using 3 SDs as the limit of normality.
About 85% of VCFs are due to primary osteoporosis. Secondary osteoporosis and neoplasms account for the remaining 15%. A VCF is operationally defined as a reduction in vertebral body height of at least 20% from the initial measurement. It is considered mild if the reduction in height is between 20% and 25%; moderate, if it is between 25% and 40%; and severs, if it is more than 40%. The most frequently fractured locations are the third-lower part of the thorax and the superior lumbar levels. The cervical vertebrae and the upper third of the thorax are rarely involved.
Traditionally, bed rest, medication, and bracing are used to treat painful VCFs. However, anti-inflammatory and narcotic medications are often poorly tolerated by the elderly and may harm the gastrointestinal tract. Bed rest and inactivity may accelerate bone loss, and bracing may restrict diaphragmatic movement. Furthermore, medical treatment does not treat the fracture in a way that ameliorates the pain and spinal deformity.
Over the past decade, the injection of bone cement through the skin into a fractured vertebral body has been used to treat VCFs. The goal of cement injection is to reduce pain by stabilizing the fracture. The secondary indication of these procedures is management of painful vertebral fractures caused by benign or malignant neoplasms (e.g., hemangioma, multiple myeloma, and metastatic cancer).
The Technology
Balloon kyphoplasty is a modified vertebroplasty technique. It is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to relieve pain, restore vertebral height, and correct kyphosis. During this procedure, an inflatable bone tamp is inserted into the collapsed vertebral body. Once inflated, the balloon elevates the end plates and thereby restores the height of the vertebral body. The balloon is deflated and removed, and the space is filled with bone cement. Creating a space in the vertebral body enables the application of more viscous cement and at a much lower pressure than is needed for vertebroplasty. This may result in less cement leakage and fewer complications. Balloons typically are inserted bilaterally, into each fractured vertebral body. Kyphoplasty usually is done under general anesthesia in about 1.5 hours. Patients typically are observed for only a few hours after the surgery, but some may require an overnight hospital stay.
Health Canada has licensed KyphX Xpander Inflatable Bone Tamp (Kyphon Inc., Sunnyvale, CA), for kyphoplasty in patients with VCFs. KyphX is the only commercially available device for percutaneous kyphoplasty. The KyphX kit uses a series of bone filler device tubes. Each bone filler device must be loaded manually with cement. The cement is injected into the cavity by pressing an inner stylet.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp for marketing in July 1998. CE (Conformité European) marketing was obtained in February 2000 for the reduction of fracture and/or creation of a void in cancellous bone.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of painful VCFs.
INAHTA, Cochrane CCTR (formerly Cochrane Controlled Trials Register), and DSR were searched for health technology assessment reports. In addition, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations were searched from January 1, 2000 to September 21, 2004. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies.
The positive end points selected for this assessment were as follows:
Reduction in pain scores
Reduction in vertebral height loss
Reduction in kyphotic (Cobb) angle
Improvement in quality of life scores
The search did not yield any health technology assessments on balloon kyphoplasty. The search yielded 152 citations, including those for review articles. No randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on balloon kyphoplasty were identified. All of the published studies were either prospective cohort studies or retrospective studies with no controls. Eleven studies (all case series) met the inclusion criteria. There was also a comparative study published in German that had been translated into English.
Summary of Findings
The results of the 1 comparative study (level 3a evidence) that was included in this review showed that, compared with conservative medical care, balloon kyphoplasty significantly improved patient outcomes.
Patients who had balloon kyphoplasty reported a significant reduction in pain that was maintained throughout follow-up (6 months), whereas pain scores did not change in the control group. Patients in the balloon kyphoplasty group did not need pain medication after 3 days. In the control group, about one-half of the patients needed more pain medication in the first 4 weeks after the procedure. After 6 weeks, 82% of the patients in the control group were still taking pain medication regularly.
Adjacent fractures were more frequent in the control group than in the balloon kyphoplasty group.
The case series reported on several important clinical outcomes.
Pain: Four studies on osteoporosis patients and 1 study on patients with multiple myeloma/primary cancers used the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to measure pain before and after balloon kyphoplasty. All of these studies reported that patients had significantly less pain after the procedure. This was maintained during follow-up. Two other studies on patients with osteoporosis also used the VAS to measure pain and found a significant improvement in pain scores; however, they did not provide follow-up data.
Vertebral body height: All 5 studies that assessed vertebral body height in patients with osteoporosis reported a significant improvement in vertebral body height after balloon kyphoplasty. One study had 1-year follow-up data for 26 patients. Vertebral body height was significantly better at 6 months and 1 year for both the anterior and midline measurements.
Two studies reported that vertebral body height was restored significantly after balloon kyphoplasty for patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. In another study, the researchers reported complete height restoration in 9% of patients, a mean 56% height restoration in 60% of patients, and no appreciable height restoration in 31% of the patients who received balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphosis correction: Four studies that assessed Cobb angle before and after balloon kyphoplasty in patients with osteoporosis found a significant reduction in degree of kyphosis after the procedure. In these studies, the differences between preoperative and postoperative Cobb angles were 3.4°, 7°, 8.8°, and 9.9°.
Only 1 study investigated kyphosis correction in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. The authors reported a significant improvement (5.2°) in local kyphosis.
Quality of life: Four studies used the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey Questionnaire to measure the quality of life in patients with osteoporosis after they had balloon kyphoplasty. A significant improvement in most of the domains of the SF-36 (bodily pain, social functioning, vitality, physical functioning, mental health, and role functioning) was observed in 2 studies. One study found that general health declined, although not significantly, and another found that role emotional declined.
Both studies that used the Oswestry Disability Index found that patients had a better quality of life after balloon kyphoplasty. In one study, this improvement was statistically significant. In another study, researchers found that quality of life after kyphoplasty improved significantly, as measured with the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. Yet another study used a quality of life questionnaire and found that 62% of the patients that had balloon kyphoplasty had returned to normal activities, whereas 2 patients had reduced mobility.
To measure quality of life in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, one group of researchers used the SF-36 and found significantly better scores on bodily pain, physical functioning, vitality, and social functioning after kyphoplasty. However, the scores for general health, mental health, role physical, and role emotional had not improved. A study that used the Oswestry Disability Index reported that patients’ scores were better postoperatively and at 3 months follow-up.
These were the main findings on complications in patients with osteoporosis:
The bone cement leaked in 37 (6%) of 620 treated fractures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
There were no reports of pulmonary embolism due to cement leakage.
There were 6 cases of cardiovascular events in 362 patients:
3 (0.8%) patients had myocardial infarction.
3 (0.8%) patients had cardiac arrhythmias.
There was 1 (0.27%) case of pulmonary embolism due to deep venous thrombosis.
There were 20 (8.4%) cases of new fractures in 238 patients.
For patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, these were the main findings:
The bone cement leaked in 12 (9.6%) of 125 procedures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
Economic Analysis
Balloon kyphoplasty requires anesthesia. Standard vertebroplasty requires sedation and an analgesic. Based on these considerations, the professional fees (Cdn) for each procedure is shown in Table 1.
Professional Fees for Standard Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty
Balloon kyphoplasty has a sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (the device cost per case) that standard vertebroplasty does not have. Therefore, the up-front cost (i.e., physician’s fees and device costs) is $187 for standard vertebroplasty and $3,812 for balloon kyphoplasty. (All costs are in Canadian currency.)
There are also “downstream costs” of the procedures, based on the different adverse outcomes associated with each. This includes the risk of developing new fractures (21% for vertebroplasty vs. 8.4% for balloon kyphoplasty), neurological complications (3.9% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), pulmonary embolism (0.1% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), and cement leakage (26.5% for vertebroplasty vs. 6.0% for balloon kyphoplasty). Accounting for these risks, and the base costs to treat each of these complications, the expected downstream costs are estimated at less than $500 per case. Therefore, the expected total direct medical cost per patient is about $700 for standard vertebroplasty and $4,300 for balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphon, the manufacturer of the inflatable bone tamps has stated that the predicted Canadian incidence of osteoporosis in 2005 is about 29,000. The predicted incidence of cancer-related vertebral fractures in 2005 is 6,731. Based on Ontario having about 38% of the Canadian population, the incidence in the province is likely to be about 11,000 for osteoporosis and 2,500 for cancer-related vertebral fractures. This means there could be as many as 13,500 procedures per year in Ontario; however, this is highly unlikely because most of the cancer-related fractures likely would be treated with medication. Given a $3,600 incremental direct medical cost associated with balloon kyphoplasty, the budget impact of adopting this technology could be as high as $48.6 million per year; however, based on data from the Provider Services Branch, about 120 standard vertebroplasties are done in Ontario annually. Given these current utilization patterns, the budget impact is likely to be in the range of $430,000 per year. This is because of the sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (per case) for balloon kyphoplasty that standard vertebroplasty does not have.
Policy Considerations
Other treatments for osteoporotic VCFs are medical management and open surgery. In cases without neurological involvement, the medical treatment of osteoporotic VCFs comprises bed rest, orthotic management, and pain medication. However, these treatments are not free of side effects. Bed rest over time can result in more bone and muscle loss, and can speed the deterioration of the underlying condition. Medication can lead to altered mood or mental status. Surgery in these patients has been limited because of its inherent risks and invasiveness, and the poor quality of osteoporotic bones. However, it may be indicated in patients with neurological deficits.
Neither of these vertebral augmentation procedures eliminates the need for aggressive treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic VCFs are often under-diagnosed and under-treated. A survey of physicians in Ontario (1) who treated elderly patients living in long-term care homes found that although these physicians were aware of the rates of osteoporosis in these patients, 45% did not routinely assess them for osteoporosis, and 26% did not routinely treat them for osteoporosis.
Management of the underlying condition that weakens the vertebral bodies should be part of the treatment plan. All patients with osteoporosis should be in a medical therapy program to treat the underlying condition, and the referring health care provider should monitor the clinical progress of the patient.
The main complication associated with vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty is cement leakage (extravertebral or vascular). This may result in more patient morbidity, longer hospitalizations, the need for open surgery, and the use of pain medications, all of which have related costs. Extravertebral cement leakage can cause neurological complications, like spinal cord compression, nerve root compression, and radiculopathy. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the cement and release the nerve. The rate of cement leakage is much lower after balloon kyphoplasty than after vertebroplasty. Furthermore, the neurological complications seen with vertebroplasty have not seen in the studies of balloon kyphoplasty. Rarely, cement leakage into the venous system will cause a pulmonary embolism. Finally, compared with vertebroplasty, the rate of new fractures is lower after balloon kyphoplasty.
Diffusion – International, National, Provincial
In Canada, balloon kyphoplasty has not yet been funded in any of the provinces. The first balloon kyphoplasty performed in Canada was in July 2004 in Ontario.
In the United States, the technology is considered by some states as medically reasonable and necessary for the treatment of painful vertebral body compression fractures.
Conclusion
There is level 4 evidence that balloon kyphoplasty to treat pain associated with VCFs due to osteoporosis is as effective as vertebroplasty at relieving pain. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that it restores the height of the affected vertebra. It also results in lower fracture rates in other vertebrae compared with vertebroplasty, and in fewer neurological complications due to cement leakage compared with vertebroplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty is a reasonable alternative to vertebroplasty, although it must be reiterated that this conclusion is based on evidence from level 4 studies.
Balloon kyphoplasty should be restricted to facilities that have sufficient volumes to develop and maintain the expertise required to maximize good quality outcomes. Therefore, consideration should be given to limiting the number of facilities in the province that can do balloon kyphoplasty.
PMCID: PMC3387743  PMID: 23074451
14.  Smoking in young women in Scotland and future burden of hospital admission and death: a nested cohort study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(613):e523-e533.
Background
Many women smoke, yet few longitudinal studies have examined the non-fatal burden of smoking in women.
Aim
To investigate smoking in young women, and hospital admission and death in Scotland; and to compare mortality risk with elsewhere in the UK.
Design and setting
Nested cohort study: Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study, UK.
Method
A total of 4121 women categorised by smoking habits and living in Scotland at recruitment (1968–1969) were followed until March 2009. Cox regression was used to investigate smoking and survival time; mortality from cancer, circulatory, or respiratory disease, and all other causes; and hospitalisation for any reason, and for specific reasons. The number and type of hospital admissions and bed-days were examined by smoking status. Life tables and Cox regression were used to compare the mortality risk of women living in Scotland with that of women living elsewhere.
Results
All-cause mortality was increased in women who smoked <15 cigarettes daily (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.99, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.74 to 2.27) and those who smoked ≥15 cigarettes daily (adjusted HR = 2.81, 95% CI = 2.47 to 3.20). Smoking any amount increased death from cancer, circulatory, respiratory, and other causes. Increased risk estimates were seen in one or both smoking groups for hospitalisation for any cause, and for several specific causes. More smokers than non-smokers were admitted to hospital, for four or more reasons, and had a longer total stay. The median survival age among smokers was lower in Scotland than elsewhere. Higher adjusted hazard ratios for mortality were found among smokers in Scotland.
Conclusion
This study provides a powerful reminder of the burden of smoking in young women. In the UK, harmful effects appear to be worse in smokers in Scotland.
doi:10.3399/bjgp13X670651
PMCID: PMC3722829  PMID: 23972193
cohort studies; general practice; hospitalisation; mortality; smoking; women
15.  Effects of changes in smoking status on risk estimates for myocardial infarction among women recruited for the Royal College of General Practitioners' Oral Contraception Study in the UK 
STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine whether changes in smoking status among women recruited for the Royal College of General Practitioners' Oral Contraception Study affected previous risk estimates for myocardial infarction. DESIGN: (1) Postal survey between November 1994 and July 1995 of women still under general practitioner observation. Validation of the smoking information supplied by the women on the questionnaire by comparison with that reported by the general practitioner at recruitment to the main study. (2) Nested case-control study of 103 cases of myocardial infarction, matched with 309 controls, to see if different risk estimates were obtained when smoking status at recruitment or smoking status at time of event were used in the analysis. SETTING: 650 general practices throughout the United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS: 10,073 women who responded to the questionnaire (85.4% of 11,797 sent out). MAIN RESULTS: There was good agreement between smoking information recorded by the general practitioner at recruitment and that supplied retrospectively by respondents to the questionnaire. The risk estimates for myocardial infarction associated with use of combined oral contraceptives (COCs) were almost identical irrespective of whether smoking status at recruitment or at time of event was used for the statistical adjustment. This was because few women stopped smoking while also using COCs. In fact, fewer regular smokers who have ever used COCs reported stopping smoking than never users. The risk estimates for myocardial infarction associated with smoking were smaller when smoking habits at recruitment was used than when smoking habits at time of event was used. CONCLUSIONS: Previous results from the Oral Contraception Study regarding the effects of COCs are unlikely to have been biased by changes in the smoking habits of the cohort, but the effects of smoking have probably been underestimated. There is still a need for effective health education regarding the risks associated with smoking, particularly among users of COCs.
 
PMCID: PMC1756732  PMID: 9799875
16.  Breast cancer and oral contraceptives: findings in Royal College of General Practitioners' study. 
The incidence of breast cancer was studied among women taking part in the continuing cohort study organised by the Royal College of General Practitioners. An overall relative risk of 1.19 (not significant) was found in those who had used oral contraceptives. The risk ratio in women under 35 years old was 2.81, but this too was not significant. There was evidence that the estimated increased risk for younger women could be a chance occurrence. No convincing evidence of any adverse effects of oral contraceptives on breast cancer has been shown, but because of the long latent period of this tumour there is a need for longer observation.
PMCID: PMC1506508  PMID: 6788214
17.  Mortality in Pharmacologically Treated Older Adults with Diabetes: The Cardiovascular Health Study, 1989–2001 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e400.
Background
Diabetes mellitus (DM) confers an increased risk of mortality in young and middle-aged individuals and in women. It is uncertain, however, whether excess DM mortality continues beyond age 75 years, is related to type of hypoglycemic therapy, and whether women continue to be disproportionately affected by DM into older age.
Methods and Findings
From the Cardiovascular Health Study, a prospective study of 5,888 adults, we examined 5,372 participants aged 65 y or above without DM (91.2%), 322 with DM treated with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHGAs) (5.5%), and 194 with DM treated with insulin (3.3%). Participants were followed (1989–2001) for total, cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and non-CVD/noncancer mortality. Compared with non-DM participants, those treated with OHGAs or insulin had adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for total mortality of 1.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10 to 1.62) and 2.04 (95% CI, 1.62 to 2.57); CVD mortality, 1.99 (95% CI, 1.54 to 2.57) and 2.16 (95% CI, 1.54 to 3.03); CHD mortality, 2.47 (95% CI, 1.89 to 3.24) and 2.75 (95% CI, 1.95 to 3.87); and infectious and renal mortality, 1.35 (95% CI, 0.70 to 2.59) and 6.55 (95% CI, 4.18 to 10.26), respectively. The interaction of age (65–74 y versus ≥75 y) with DM was not significant. Women treated with OHGAs had a similar HR for total mortality to men, but a higher HR when treated with insulin.
Conclusions
DM mortality risk remains high among older adults in the current era of medical care. Mortality risk and type of mortality differ between OHGA and insulin treatment. Women treated with insulin therapy have an especially high mortality risk. Given the high absolute CVD mortality in older people, those with DM warrant aggressive CVD risk factor reduction.
The negative impact on mortality of diabetes persists into old age. Elderly people with diabetes might be twice as likely to die from CVD as people without diabetes. More aggressive treatment of CVD risk factors in older patients should be considered.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Diabetes is a growing global health problem. By 2030, 300 million people worldwide may have this chronic, incurable disorder, double the current number. People with diabetes have dangerously high amounts of sugar in their blood. Blood-sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that tells cells to absorb sugar from the blood. This control fails in people with diabetes, either because they make no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because their cells are insensitive to insulin (type 2 diabetes). Type 1 diabetes is controlled with insulin injections; type 2 diabetes is controlled with diet, exercise, and pills that reduce blood-sugar levels. Long-term complications of diabetes include kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage. Individuals with diabetes also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)—heart problems, strokes, and poor circulation—because of damage to their blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies (investigations of disease patterns, causes, and control in populations) have indicated that diabetes increases the risk of death (mortality) from CVD in young and middle-aged people, but it is not known whether this is also true for old people. It is also not known what effect long-term treatment for diabetes has on mortality or whether the risk of death from CVD is decreasing in diabetic people as it is in the general US population. This information would help physicians provide health care and lifestyle advice to people with diabetes. In this study, the researchers have investigated mortality patterns in elderly diabetic people by looking at data collected between 1989 and 2001 by the US Cardiovascular Health Study, an observational study of nearly 6,000 people aged over 65 years (in this type of study participants are observed without imposing any specific changes to their lifestyle, behavior, medical care, or treatments).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Participants were screened at the start of the Cardiovascular Health Study for CVD and diabetes (defined as drug-treated disease), for established CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking, for recently recognized CVD risk factors (for example, subclinical CVD), and for psychosocial factors associated with diabetes that might influence mortality, such as frailty and depression. At this time, about 5% of the participants were taking oral hypoglycemic agents for diabetes and about 3% were taking insulin. During the 11-year study, 40% of the participants died. After adjusting for CVD risk factors and psychosocial factors, the researchers calculated that people treated with oral hypoglycemic agents were 1.3 times as likely to die from all causes and people treated with insulin were twice as likely to die as people without diabetes. The risk of death from CVD was about twice as high in both groups of diabetic participants as in non-diabetic participants; the risk of death from coronary heart disease was increased about 2.5-fold. These adjusted relative risks are very similar to those found in previous studies. The researchers also report that participants treated with insulin were six times more likely to die from infectious diseases or renal failure than nondiabetic participants, and women treated with insulin had a particularly high mortality risk.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the negative impact on mortality of diabetes persists into old age and that death from CVD is currently declining in both older diabetic people and nondiabetic people. In addition, they show that diabetic people treated with insulin are at a greater risk of dying relative to people without diabetes and those taking oral hypoglycemic agents. This might reflect the type of diabetes that these people had, but this was not investigated. How long participants had had diabetes was also not considered, nor how many people developed diabetes during the study. These and other limitations might mean that the reported excess mortality due to diabetes is an underestimate. Nevertheless, the estimate that elderly people with diabetes are twice as likely to die from CVD as people without diabetes is important. Many elderly people die anyway because of CVD, so this increased risk represents many more deaths than the similar increased risk in younger diabetic populations. Yet, elderly people often receive less-intensive management of CVD risk factors than younger people. The results of this study suggest that rectifying this situation could prolong the lives of many elderly people with diabetes.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030400.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on diabetes, heart disease, stroke and poor circulation
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides patient information on diabetes
Information for patients on prevention, diagnosis, and management of diabetes is available from the America Diabetes Association
Patient information is available from the American Heart Association on all aspects of heart disease, including its association with diabetes
Wikipedia pages on diabetes and cardiovascular disease (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Further information is available about the Cardiovascular Health Study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030400
PMCID: PMC1609124  PMID: 17048978
18.  Oral contraceptive use and mortality after 36 years of follow-up in the Nurses’ Health Study: prospective cohort study 
Objective To determine whether use of oral contraceptives is associated with all cause and cause specific mortality.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Nurses’ Health Study, data collected between 1976 and 2012.
Population 121 701 participants were prospectively followed for 36 years; lifetime oral contraceptive use was recorded biennially from 1976 to 1982.
Main outcome measures Overall and cause specific mortality, assessed throughout follow-up until 2012. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate the relative risks of all cause and cause specific mortality associated with use of oral contraceptives.
Results In our population of 121 577 women with information on oral contraceptive use, 63 626 were never users (52%) and 57 951 were ever users (48%). After 3.6 million person years, we recorded 31 286 deaths. No association was observed between ever use of oral contraceptives and all cause mortality. However, violent or accidental deaths were more common among ever users (hazard ratio 1.20, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.37). Longer duration of use was more strongly associated with certain causes of death, including premature mortality due to breast cancer (test for trend P<0.0001) and decreased mortality rates of ovarian cancer (P=0.002). Longer time since last use was also associated with certain outcomes, including a positive association with violent or accidental deaths (P=0.005).
Conclusions All cause mortality did not differ significantly between women who had ever used oral contraceptives and never users. Oral contraceptive use was associated with certain causes of death, including increased rates of violent or accidental death and deaths due to breast cancer, whereas deaths due to ovarian cancer were less common among women who used oral contraceptives. These results pertain to earlier oral contraceptive formulations with higher hormone doses rather than the now more commonly used third and fourth generation formulations with lower estrogen doses.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g6356
PMCID: PMC4216099  PMID: 25361731
19.  Breast pain 
Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:0812.
Introduction
Breast pain may be cyclical (worse before a period) or non-cyclical, originating from the breast or the chest wall, and occurs at some time in 70% of women. Cyclical breast pain resolves spontaneously in 20% to 30% of women, but tends to recur in 60% of women. Non-cyclical pain responds poorly to treatment but tends to resolve spontaneously in half of women.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of treatments for breast pain? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to May 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 24 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: antibiotics, bromocriptine, combined oral contraceptive pill, danazol, diuretics, evening primrose oil, gestrinone, gonadorelin analogues, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), lisuride, low-fat diet, progestogens, pyridoxine, tamoxifen, tibolone, topical or oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), toremifene, and vitamin E.
Key Points
Breast pain (mastalgia) may be cyclical (worse before a period) or non-cyclical, originating from the breast or the chest wall, and occurs at some time in 70% of women. Cyclical breast pain resolves spontaneously in 20% to 30% of women, but tends to recur in 60% of women.Non-cyclical pain responds poorly to treatment but tends to resolve spontaneously in half of women.
Diclofenac (a topical NSAID) seems effective at relieving symptoms of cyclical and non-cyclical breast pain but has been associated with adverse effects. There is consensus that topical NSAIDs are effective in relieving breast pain and should be considered as a first-line treatment, as the benefits are thought to outweigh the risk of adverse effects.
We found insufficient evidence to assess the effects of oral NSAIDs on breast pain.
Danazol, tamoxifen, toremifene, gonadorelin analogues, and gestrinone may reduce breast pain, but all can cause adverse effects. Danazol can cause weight gain, deepening of the voice, menorrhagia, and muscle cramps, and has androgenic effects on the fetus.Danazol is less effective than tamoxifen at reducing breast pain and has a less favourable adverse-effects profile compared with tamoxifen (10 mg daily).Tamoxifen (20 mg daily) and toremifene may increase the risk of venous thromboembolism, and neither drug is licensed for breast pain in the UK or USA.Tamoxifen (10 mg daily) under expert supervision, or danazol, may be considered when first-line treatments are ineffective.
Bromocriptine reduces breast pain compared with placebo, but its licence for this indication has been withdrawn in the USA because of frequent and intolerable adverse effects.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is associated with increased risks of breast cancer, venous thromboembolism, and gall bladder disease, may worsen breast pain. RCTs assessing the effects of HRT as a treatment for breast pain are unlikely to be conducted.
Evening primrose oil has not been shown to improve breast pain, and its licence has been withdrawn for this indication in the UK owing to lack of efficacy.
There is consensus that pyridoxine, diuretics, progestogens, tibolone, and antibiotics do not have a role in treating mastalgia. CAUTION: tibolone has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer recurrence.
We don't know whether the combined oral contraceptive pill reduces breast pain, as we found no RCTs.
We don't know whether a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, lisuride, or vitamin E reduce breast pain, as we found few studies.
PMCID: PMC3275318  PMID: 21477394
20.  Widespread body pain and mortality: prospective population based study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7314):662.
Objective
To determine whether there is excess mortality in groups of people who report widespread body pain, and if so to establish the nature and extent of any excess.
Design
Prospective follow up study over eight years. Mortality rate ratios were adjusted for age group, sex, and study location.
Setting
North west England.
Participants
6569 people who took part in two pain surveys during 1991-2.
Main outcome measures
Pain status at baseline and subsequent mortality.
Results
1005 (15%) participants had widespread pain, 3176 (48%) had regional pain, and 2388 (36%) had no pain. During follow up mortality was higher in people with regional pain (mortality rate ratio 1.21, 95% confidence interval 1.01 to 1.44) and widespread pain (1.31, 1.05 to 1.65) than in those who reported no pain. The excess mortality among people with regional and widespread pain was almost entirely related to deaths from cancer (1.55 (1.09 to 2.19) for regional pain and 2.07 (1.37 to 3.13) for widespread pain). The excess cancer mortality remained after exclusion of people in whom cancer had been diagnosed before the original survey and after adjustment for potential confounding factors. There were also more deaths from causes other than disease (for example, accidents, suicide, violence) among people with widespread pain (5.21, 0.94 to 28.78).
Conclusion
There is an intriguing association between the report of widespread pain and subsequent death from cancer in the medium and long term. This may have implications for the long term follow up of patients with “unexplained” widespread pain symptoms, such as those with fibromyalgia.
What is already known on this topicWidespread body pain, the cardinal symptom of fibromyalgia, is commonAn organic basis for symptoms is found in only a small proportion of peopleTreatment is difficult, and studies with short term follow up have shown that symptoms commonly persistWhat this study addsThis was the first study with long term follow up of people with widespread pain in the communityThese people experience an increased mortality and the excess is principally related to deaths from cancer
PMCID: PMC55925  PMID: 11566829
21.  Cigarette smoking and parity as risk factors for the development of symptomatic gall bladder disease in women: results of the Royal College of General Practitioners' oral contraception study. 
Gut  1994;35(1):107-111.
The effects of cigarette smoking and parity on the development of symptomatic gall bladder disease remain controversial. These relations have been examined in a cohort of 46,000 women followed for up to 19 years during the Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP) oral contraception study. During follow up, 1087 women were recorded as experiencing their first ever episode of symptomatic cholelithiasis (International Classification of Diseases, 8th revision (ICD-8) 574) or cholecystitis (ICD-8 575). Smokers were more likely to develop symptomatic gall bladder disease than non-smokers (relative risk 1.19; 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) 1.06 to 1.34) and there was a significant trend with the number of cigarettes smoked daily (test for trend chi 2 = 7.58, p < 0.01). This relation was most apparent among never users of oral contraceptives, although similar trends were found among current and former users. A significant direct relation between symptomatic gall bladder disease and parity was also found (test for trend chi 2 = 21.89, p < 0.001). When all were examined together a trend of increasing risk with lower social class was also found (test for trend chi 2 = 5.72, p = 0.02). Current users of oral contraceptives had a moderately increased risk of symptomatic gall bladder disease (relative risk 1.15; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.34), unlike former users (relative risk 1.03; 95% CI 0.90 to 1.18). These results suggest that smoking and parity are important risk factors for the development of symptomatic gall bladder disease in women.
PMCID: PMC1374643  PMID: 8307429
22.  Comparison of cause of death coding on death certificates with coding in the Royal College of General Practitioners Oral Contraception Study. 
A comparison has been made between the coding of the cause of death by (a) the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) during the Oral Contraception Study and (b) the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) or the General Register Office for Scotland (GRO) on death certificates for the same subjects. Broad grouping of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) showed close agreement between RCGP and OPCS or GRO coding for all deaths which occurred from the start of the Oral Contraception Study in 1968 up to December 1978. Moreover, where discrepancies occurred there were no systematic differences between ever-users of oral contraceptive and non-users. Detailed examinations of discrepancies in the coding of the causes of those deaths included in the RCGP publication of October 1977 shows that our previous estimate of mortality risk associated with oral contraceptives would not be materially altered by the use of death certificate information.
PMCID: PMC1052120  PMID: 7264534
23.  GCH1-polymorphism and pain sensitivity among women with provoked vestibulodynia 
Molecular Pain  2012;8:68.
Background
Provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) is a pain disorder localized in the vestibular mucosa. It is the most common cause of dyspareunia among young women and it is associated with general pain hypersensitivity and other chronic pain conditions. Polymorphism in the guanosine triphosphate cyclohydrolase (GCH1) gene has been found to influence general pain sensitivity and the risk of developing a longstanding pain condition. The aim of this study was to investigate GCH1-polymorphism in women with PVD and healthy controls, in correlation to pain sensitivity.
Results
We found no correlation between the previously defined pain-protective GCH1-SNP combination and the diagnosis of PVD. Nor any correlation with pain sensitivity measured as pressure pain thresholds on the arm, leg and in the vestibule, coital pain scored on a visual analog scale and prevalence of other bodily pain conditions among women with PVD (n = 98) and healthy controls (n = 102). However, among patients with current treatment (n = 36), there was a significant interaction effect of GCH1-gene polymorphism and hormonal contraceptive (HC) therapy on coital pain (p = 0.04) as well as on pressure pain thresholds on the arm (p = 0.04). PVD patients carrying the specified SNP combination and using HCs had higher pain sensitivity compared to non-carriers. In non-HC-users, carriers had lower pain sensitivity.
Conclusions
The results of this study gave no support to the hypothesis that polymorphism in the GCH1-gene contributes to the etiology of PVD. However, among patients currently receiving treatment an interaction effect of the defined SNP combination and use of hormonal contraceptives on pain sensitivity was found. This finding offers a possible explanation to the clinically known fact that some PVD patients improve after cessation of hormonal contraceptives, indicating that PVD patients carrying the defined SNP combination of GCH1 would benefit from this intervention.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-68
PMCID: PMC3489821  PMID: 22971341
Provoked vestibulodynia; Pain; GCH1; Gene; Polymorphism; SNP; Hormonal contraceptives
24.  Reproductive Outcomes Following Ectopic Pregnancy: Register-Based Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001243.
Using Scottish national registry data, Sohinee Bhattacharya and colleagues investigate pregnancy outcomes following ectopic pregnancy in comparison to livebirth, miscarriage, or termination in a first pregnancy.
Background
We aimed to compare reproductive outcomes following ectopic pregnancy (EP) versus livebirth, miscarriage, or termination in a first pregnancy.
Methods And Findings
A retrospective cohort study design was used. Scottish national data on all women whose first pregnancy occurred between 1981 and 2000 were linked to records of a subsequent pregnancy. The exposed cohort comprised women with an EP in their first pregnancy. There were three unexposed cohorts: women with livebirth, miscarriage, and termination of their first pregnancies. Any differences in rates of second pregnancy, livebirth, EP, miscarriage, or terminations and complications of a second ongoing pregnancy and delivery were assessed among the different exposure groups. A total of 2,969 women had an initial EP; 667,299 had a livebirth, 39,705 women miscarried, and 78,697 terminated their first pregnancies. Women with an initial EP had an increased chance of another pregnancy within 2 years (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) 2.76 [95% CI 2.58–2.95]) or after 6 years (AHR 1.57 [95% CI 1.29–1.91]) compared to women with a livebirth. In comparison with women with an initial miscarriage, women who had an EP had a lower chance of a second pregnancy (AHR 0.53 [95% CI 0.50–0.56]). Compared to women with an initial termination, women with an EP had an increased chance of a second pregnancy (AHR 2.38 [95% CI 2.23–2.55]) within 2 years. Women with an initial EP suffered an increased risk of another EP compared to women with a livebirth (AHR 13.0 [95% CI 11.63–16.86]), miscarriage (AHR 6.07 [95% CI 4.83–7.62]), or termination (AHR 12.84 [95% CI 10.07–16.37]). Perinatal complications in a pregnancy following EP were not significantly higher than those in primigravidae or in women with a previous miscarriage or termination.
Conclusion
Women with an initial EP have a lower chance of conception than those who miscarry but an increased risk of a repeat EP in comparison with all three comparison groups. A major limitation of this study was the inability to separate women using contraception from those who were intending to conceive.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo (fertilized egg) implants outside the uterine cavity, usually in the fallopian tubes but sometimes in the cervix, ovaries, or abdomen. The prevalence for this condition is between 1%–2% of all pregnancies, and risk factors are thought to include pelvic infection, smoking, previous pelvic surgery, and use of certain types of intrauterine contraceptive devices. Ectopic pregnancies are potentially life threatening because as the fetus grows, it can lead to tubal rupture and abdominal bleeding—for example, in the UK, ectopic pregnancies are responsible for almost three-quarters of early pregnancy-related deaths. However, due to improvements in early diagnosis, in high income countries, deaths from ectopic pregnancies have become increasingly rare.
Why Was This Study Done?
Having an ectopic pregnancy can have serious implications for future fertility and subsequent pregnancies but to date, there is little information on reproductive outcomes in women who have had an ectopic pregnancy. So in this study, the researchers used a population-based cohort of women in Scotland to examine future reproductive outcomes in women who had an initial ectopic pregnancy and then compare these outcomes to those in women following a successful (live birth) or unsuccessful (miscarriage or termination) intrauterine pregnancy.
What Did The Researchers Do And Find?
The researchers used a national database (The Scottish Morbidity Record) and hospital discharge information to identify women who had ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, terminations, or on-going pregnancies between 1981–2000. Then, using unique linking identifiers, they were able to examine the outcomes of subsequent pregnancies and conducted a statistical analysis to investigate whether the first pregnancy outcome had any effect on second pregnancy outcomes.
 The researchers found that during the time period studied, in their first pregnancy, 2,969 women had an ectopic pregnancy, 39,705 women miscarried, 78,697 women underwent termination, and the majority, 667,299, gave birth to a live infant. The researchers then found that compared to women with an initial live birth, women with an ectopic pregnancy were 2.76 times more likely to conceive a second pregnancy within two years. However, compared to women whose first pregnancies ended in miscarriage, women with an initial ectopic pregnancy were significantly less likely to conceive a second time but had an increased chance of a second pregnancy within two years compared to women who terminated their first pregnancy. Importantly, the researchers found that women with an initial ectopic pregnancy had a higher risk of a further ectopic pregnancy compared to all the other groups of women. Furthermore, these women had a significantly higher risk of preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and emergency cesarean delivery in their next continuing pregnancy compared to women who had a previous live birth. However, these risks were not significantly higher than women who had an early loss in a first pregnancy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women with an initial ectopic pregnancy have a lower chance of conception than those who miscarry and also have an increased risk of a repeat ectopic pregnancy compared to women who experience miscarriage, termination, or a live birth in their first pregnancy. However, as the researchers did not have any information on contraception use, a major limitation of this study is the inability to separate women using contraception from those who were intending to conceive—women who experienced an ectopic pregnancy may not want to conceive again after a traumatic experience rather than being unable to conceive because of tubal damage. However, the results of this study may help doctors to counsel women with an ectopic pregnancy at the time of initial diagnosis and treatment, and in those willing to conceive again, offer follow-up to discuss future fertility and possible risks of subsequent pregnancy. Further research will help to investigate whether the site of ectopic pregnancy affects future reproductive outcomes.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001243.
The American Pregnancy Association and the UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices give information on ectopic pregnancy
The UK nonprofit organization Ectopic Pregnancy Trust provides support for individuals affected by ectopic pregnancy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001243
PMCID: PMC3378618  PMID: 22723747
25.  Combined Impact of Lifestyle-Related Factors on Total and Cause-Specific Mortality among Chinese Women: Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(9):e1000339.
Findings from the Shanghai Women's Health Study confirm those derived from other, principally Western, cohorts regarding the combined impact of lifestyle-related factors on mortality.
Background
Although cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol drinking, obesity, and several other well-studied unhealthy lifestyle-related factors each have been linked to the risk of multiple chronic diseases and premature death, little is known about the combined impact on mortality outcomes, in particular among Chinese and other non-Western populations. The objective of this study was to quantify the overall impact of lifestyle-related factors beyond that of active cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on all-cause and cause-specific mortality in Chinese women.
Methods and Findings
We used data from the Shanghai Women's Health Study, an ongoing population-based prospective cohort study in China. Participants included 71,243 women aged 40 to 70 years enrolled during 1996–2000 who never smoked or drank alcohol regularly. A healthy lifestyle score was created on the basis of five lifestyle-related factors shown to be independently associated with mortality outcomes (normal weight, lower waist-hip ratio, daily exercise, never exposed to spouse's smoking, higher daily fruit and vegetable intake). The score ranged from zero (least healthy) to five (most healthy) points. During an average follow-up of 9 years, 2,860 deaths occurred, including 775 from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 1,351 from cancer. Adjusted hazard ratios for mortality decreased progressively with an increasing number of healthy lifestyle factors. Compared to women with a score of zero, hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for women with four to five factors were 0.57 (0.44–0.74) for total mortality, 0.29 (0.16–0.54) for CVD mortality, and 0.76 (0.54–1.06) for cancer mortality. The inverse association between the healthy lifestyle score and mortality was seen consistently regardless of chronic disease status at baseline. The population attributable risks for not having 4–5 healthy lifestyle factors were 33% for total deaths, 59% for CVD deaths, and 19% for cancer deaths.
Conclusions
In this first study, to our knowledge, to quantify the combined impact of lifestyle-related factors on mortality outcomes in Chinese women, a healthier lifestyle pattern—including being of normal weight, lower central adiposity, participation in physical activity, nonexposure to spousal smoking, and higher fruit and vegetable intake—was associated with reductions in total and cause-specific mortality among lifetime nonsmoking and nondrinking women, supporting the importance of overall lifestyle modification in disease prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
It is well established that lifestyle-related factors, such as limited physical activity, unhealthy diets, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to tobacco smoke are linked to an increased risk of many chronic diseases and premature death. However, few studies have investigated the combined impact of lifestyle-related factors and mortality outcomes, and most of such studies of combinations of established lifestyle factors and mortality have been conducted in the US and Western Europe. In addition, little is currently known about the combined impact on mortality of lifestyle factors beyond that of active smoking and alcohol consumption.
Why Was This Study Done?
Lifestyles in regions of the world can vary considerably. For example, many women in Asia do not actively smoke or regularly drink alcohol, which are important facts to note when considering practical disease prevention measures for these women. Therefore, it is important to study the combination of lifestyle factors appropriate to this population.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the Shanghai Women's Health Study, an ongoing prospective cohort study of almost 75,000 Chinese women aged 40–70 years, as the basis for their analysis. The Shanghai Women's Health Study has comprehensive baseline data on anthropometric measurements, lifestyle habits (including the responses to validated food frequency and physical activity questionnaires), medical history, occupational history, and select information from each participant's spouse, such as smoking history and alcohol consumption. This information was used by the researchers to create a healthy lifestyle score on the basis of five lifestyle-related factors shown to be independently associated with mortality outcomes in this population: normal weight, lower waist-hip ratio, daily exercise, never being exposed to spouse's smoking, and higher daily fruit and vegetable intake. The score ranged from zero (least healthy) to five (most healthy) points. The researchers found that higher healthy lifestyle scores were significantly associated with decreasing mortality and that this association persisted for all women regardless of their baseline comorbidities. So in effect, healthier lifestyle-related factors, including normal weight, lower waist-hip ratio, participation in exercise, never being exposed to spousal smoking, and higher daily fruit and vegetable intake, were significantly and independently associated with lower risk of total, and cause-specific, mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This large prospective cohort study conducted among lifetime nonsmokers and nonalcohol drinkers shows that lifestyle factors, other than active smoking and alcohol consumption, have a major combined impact on total mortality on a scale comparable to the effect of smoking—the leading cause of death in most populations. However, the sample sizes for some cause-specific analyses were relatively small (despite the overall large sample size), and extended follow-up of this cohort will provide the opportunity to further evaluate the impact of these lifestyle-related factors on mortality outcomes in the future.
The findings of this study highlight the importance of overall lifestyle modification in disease prevention, especially as most of the lifestyle-related factors studied here may be improved by individual motivation to change unhealthy behaviors. Further research is needed to design appropriate interventions to increase these healthy lifestyle factors among Asian women.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000339
The Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center has more information on the Shanghai Women's Health Study
The World Health Organization provides information on health in China
The document Health policy and systems research in Chinacontains information about health policy and health systems research in China
The Chinese Ministry of Healthalso provides health information
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000339
PMCID: PMC2939020  PMID: 20856900

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