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1.  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
2.  Combined Impact of Health Behaviours and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e12.
Background
There is overwhelming evidence that behavioural factors influence health, but their combined impact on the general population is less well documented. We aimed to quantify the potential combined impact of four health behaviours on mortality in men and women living in the general community.
Methods and Findings
We examined the prospective relationship between lifestyle and mortality in a prospective population study of 20,244 men and women aged 45–79 y with no known cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline survey in 1993–1997, living in the general community in the United Kingdom, and followed up to 2006. Participants scored one point for each health behaviour: current non-smoking, not physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week) and plasma vitamin C >50 mmol/l indicating fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day, for a total score ranging from zero to four. After an average 11 y follow-up, the age-, sex-, body mass–, and social class–adjusted relative risks (95% confidence intervals) for all-cause mortality(1,987 deaths) for men and women who had three, two, one, and zero compared to four health behaviours were respectively, 1.39 (1.21–1.60), 1.95 (1.70–-2.25), 2.52 (2.13–3.00), and 4.04 (2.95–5.54) p < 0.001 trend. The relationships were consistent in subgroups stratified by sex, age, body mass index, and social class, and after excluding deaths within 2 y. The trends were strongest for cardiovascular causes. The mortality risk for those with four compared to zero health behaviours was equivalent to being 14 y younger in chronological age.
Conclusions
Four health behaviours combined predict a 4-fold difference in total mortality in men and women, with an estimated impact equivalent to 14 y in chronological age.
From a large prospective population study, Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues estimate the combined impact of four behaviors--not smoking, not being physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake, and at least five vegetable servings a day--amounts to 14 additional years of life.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every day, or so it seems, new research shows that some aspect of lifestyle—physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, and so on—affects health and longevity. For the person in the street, all this information is confusing. What is a healthy diet, for example? Although there are some common themes such as the benefit of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, the details often differ between studies. And exactly how much physical activity is needed to improve health? Is a gentle daily walk sufficient or simply a stepping stone to doing enough exercise to make a real difference? The situation with alcohol consumption is equally confusing. Small amounts of alcohol apparently improve health but large amounts are harmful. As a result, it can be hard for public-health officials to find effective ways to encourage the behavioral changes that the scientific evidence suggests might influence the health of populations.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is another factor that is hindering official attempts to provide healthy lifestyle advice to the public. Although there is overwhelming evidence that individual behavioral factors influence health, there is very little information about their combined impact. If the combination of several small differences in lifestyle could be shown to have a marked effect on the health of populations, it might be easier to persuade people to make behavioral changes to improve their health, particularly if those changes were simple and relatively easy to achieve. In this study, which forms part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), the researchers have examined the relationship between lifestyle and the risk of dying using a health behavior score based on four simply defined behaviors—smoking, physical activity, alcohol drinking, and fruit and vegetable intake.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1993 and 1997, about 20,000 men and women aged 45–79 living in Norfolk UK, none of whom had cancer or cardiovascular disease (heart or circulation problems), completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire, had a health examination, and had their blood vitamin C level measured as part of the EPIC-Norfolk study. A health behavior score of between 0 and 4 was calculated for each participant by giving one point for each of the following healthy behaviors: current non-smoking, not physically inactive (physical inactivity was defined as having a sedentary job and doing no recreational exercise), moderate alcohol intake (1–14 units a week; a unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of spirit), and a blood vitamin C level consistent with a fruit and vegetable intake of at least five servings a day. Deaths among the participants were then recorded until 2006. After allowing for other factors that might have affected their likelihood of dying (for example, age), people with a health behavior score of 0 were four times as likely to have died (in particular, from cardiovascular disease) than those with a score of 4. People with a score of 2 were twice as likely to have died.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the combination of four simply defined health behaviors predicts a 4-fold difference in the risk of dying over an average period of 11 years for middle-aged and older people. They also show that the risk of death (particularly from cardiovascular disease) decreases as the number of positive health behaviors increase. Finally, they can be used to calculate that a person with a health score of 0 has the same risk of dying as a person with a health score of 4 who is 14 years older. These findings need to be confirmed in other populations and extended to an analysis of how these combined health behaviors affect the quality of life as well as the risk of death. Nevertheless, they strongly suggest that modest and achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked effect on the health of populations. Armed with this information, public-health officials should now be in a better position to encourage behavior changes likely to improve the health of middle-aged and older people.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050012.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on healthy living (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus page on seniors' health contains links to many sites dealing with healthy lifestyles and longevity (in English and Spanish)
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study is investigating the relationship between nutrition and lifestyle and the development of cancer and other chronic diseases; information about the EPIC-Norfolk study is also available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on healthy aging for older adults, including information on health-related behaviors (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity Age Concerns provides a fact sheet about staying healthy in later life
The London Health Observatory, which provides information for policy makers and practitioners about improving health and health care, has a section on how lifestyle and behavior affect health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050012
PMCID: PMC2174962  PMID: 18184033
3.  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
4.  The risk of serious illness among oral contraceptive users: evidence from the RCGP's oral contraceptive study. 
The British Journal of General Practice  1998;48(435):1657-1662.
BACKGROUND: So far, no-one has attempted to evaluate the overall balance of serious, but not necessarily fatal, disease among a cohort of oral contraceptive users. AIM: To emprirically assess the balance of risk of serious illness among a cohort of oral contraceptive users followed up for up to 28 years. METHODS: Oral contraceptive-associated serious disease was defined as that which is often life-threatening and/or associated with long-term disability, and which has been found, or postulated, to be associated with use of combined oral contraceptives. Data from the Royal College of General Practitioners' (RCGP) Oral Contraception Study were examined to determine the rate of such conditions during 335,181 woman-years of observation in 'ever users' and 228,727 woman-years in 'never users'. The rates were standardized for age, parity, social class, and smoking. RESULTS: Compared with never users, ever users had a small increased risk of any serious disease (relative risk = 1.17; 95% confidence interval = 1.09-1.25). Ever users had an excess risk of cerebrovascular disease, pulmonary embolism, and venous thromboembolism, and reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. The increased risk was seen only in younger women; by the age of 50, ever users had the same risk as never users. The risk appeared to be confined to women using older oral contraceptives containing 50 micrograms or more of oestrogen. CONCLUSIONS: Past users of older, higher dose oral contraceptives can be reassured that the small increased risk of serious disease seen during current use does not persist after stopping, and that latent effects do not appear later in life. Currently available oral contraceptives, containing less than 50 micrograms of oestrogen accompanied by the progestogen, levonorgestrel, or norethisterone acetate, do not appear to be associated with an increased net risk of serious disease.
PMCID: PMC1313240  PMID: 10071398
5.  Lifestyle Risk Factors and New-Onset Diabetes Mellitus in Older Adults 
Archives of internal medicine  2009;169(8):798-807.
Background
The combined impact of lifestyle factors on incidence of diabetes mellitus later in life is not well established. The objective of this study was to determine how lifestyle factors, assessed in combination, relate to new-onset diabetes in a broad and relatively unselected population of older adults.
Methods
We prospectively examined associations of lifestyle factors, measured using repeated assessments later in life, with incident diabetes mellitus during a 10-year period (1989–1998) among 4883 men and women 65 years or older (mean [SD] age at baseline, 73[6] years) enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study. Low-risk lifestyle groups were defined by physical activity level (leisure-time activity and walking pace) above the median; dietary score (higher fiber intake and polyunsaturated to saturated fat ratio, lower trans-fat intake and lower mean glycemic index) in the top 2 quintiles; never smoked or former smoker more than 20 years ago or for fewer than 5 pack-years; alcohol use (predominantly light or moderate); body mass index less than 25 (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared); and waist circumference of 88 cm for women or 92 cm for men. The main outcome measure was incident diabetes defined annually by new use of insulin or oral hypoglycemic medications. We also evaluated fasting and 2-hour postchallenge glucose levels.
Results
During 34 539 person-years, 337 new cases of drug-treated diabetes mellitus occurred (9.8 per 1000 person-years). After adjustment for age, sex, race, educational level, and annual income, each lifestyle factor was independently associated with incident diabetes. Overall, the rate of incident diabetes was 35% lower (relative risk, 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.59–0.71) for each 1 additional lifestyle factor in the low-risk group. Participants whose physical activity level and dietary, smoking, and alcohol habits were all in the low-risk group had an 82% lower incidence of diabetes (relative risk, 0.18; 95% confidence interval, 0.06–0.56) compared with all other participants. When absence of adiposity (either body mass index <25 or waist circumference ≤88/92 cm for women/men) was added to the other 4 low-risk lifestyle factors, incidence of diabetes was 89% lower (relative risk, 0.11; 95% confidence interval, 0.01–0.76). Overall, 9 of 10 new cases of diabetes appeared to be attributable to these 5 lifestyle factors. Associations were slightly attenuated, but still highly significant, for incident diabetes defined by medication use or glucose level.
Conclusion
Even later in life, combined lifestyle factors are associated with a markedly lower incidence of new-onset diabetes mellitus.
doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.21
PMCID: PMC2828342  PMID: 19398692
6.  Adult Mortality Attributable to Preventable Risk Factors for Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries in Japan: A Comparative Risk Assessment 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001160.
Using a combination of published data and modeling, Nayu Ikeda and colleagues identify tobacco smoking and high blood pressure as major risk factors for death from noncommunicable diseases among adults in Japan.
Background
The population of Japan has achieved the longest life expectancy in the world. To further improve population health, consistent and comparative evidence on mortality attributable to preventable risk factors is necessary for setting priorities for health policies and programs. Although several past studies have quantified the impact of individual risk factors in Japan, to our knowledge no study has assessed and compared the effects of multiple modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases and injuries using a standard framework. We estimated the effects of 16 risk factors on cause-specific deaths and life expectancy in Japan.
Methods and Findings
We obtained data on risk factor exposures from the National Health and Nutrition Survey and epidemiological studies, data on the number of cause-specific deaths from vital records adjusted for ill-defined codes, and data on relative risks from epidemiological studies and meta-analyses. We applied a comparative risk assessment framework to estimate effects of excess risks on deaths and life expectancy at age 40 y. In 2007, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure accounted for 129,000 deaths (95% CI: 115,000–154,000) and 104,000 deaths (95% CI: 86,000–119,000), respectively, followed by physical inactivity (52,000 deaths, 95% CI: 47,000–58,000), high blood glucose (34,000 deaths, 95% CI: 26,000–43,000), high dietary salt intake (34,000 deaths, 95% CI: 27,000–39,000), and alcohol use (31,000 deaths, 95% CI: 28,000–35,000). In recent decades, cancer mortality attributable to tobacco smoking has increased in the elderly, while stroke mortality attributable to high blood pressure has declined. Life expectancy at age 40 y in 2007 would have been extended by 1.4 y for both sexes (men, 95% CI: 1.3–1.6; women, 95% CI: 1.2–1.7) if exposures to multiple cardiovascular risk factors had been reduced to their optimal levels as determined by a theoretical-minimum-risk exposure distribution.
Conclusions
Tobacco smoking and high blood pressure are the two major risk factors for adult mortality from non-communicable diseases and injuries in Japan. There is a large potential population health gain if multiple risk factors are jointly controlled.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, a small number of modifiable risk factors are responsible for many premature or preventable deaths. For example, having high blood pressure (hypertension) increases a person's risk of developing life-threatening heart problems and stroke (cardiovascular disease). Similarly, having a high blood sugar level increases the risk of developing diabetes, a chronic (long-term) disease that can lead to cardiovascular problems and kidney failure, and half of all long-term tobacco smokers in Western populations will die prematurely from diseases related to smoking, such as lung cancer. Importantly, the five major risk factors for death globally—high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity—are all modifiable. That is, lifestyle changes and dietary changes such as exercising more, reducing salt intake, and increasing fruit and vegetable intake can reduce an individual's exposure to these risk factors and one's chances of premature death. Moreover, public health programs designed to reduce a population's exposure to modifiable risk factors should reduce preventable deaths in that population.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2000, the Japanese government initiated Health Japan 21, a ten-year national health promotion campaign designed to prevent premature death from non-communicable (noninfectious) diseases and injuries. This campaign set 59 goals to monitor and improve risk factor management in the Japanese population, which has one of the longest life expectancies at birth in the world (the life expectancy of a person born in Japan in 2009 was 83.1 years). Because the campaign's final evaluation revealed deterioration or no improvement on some of these goals, the Japanese government recently released new guidelines that stress the importance of simultaneously controlling multiple risk factors for chronic diseases. However, although several studies have quantified the impacts on life expectancy and cause-specific death of individual modifiable risk factors in Japan, the effects of multiple risk factors have not been assessed. In this study, the researchers use a “comparative risk assessment” framework to estimate the effects of 16 risk factors on cause-specific deaths and life expectancy in Japan. Comparative risk assessment estimates the number of deaths that would be prevented if current distributions of risk factor exposures were changed to hypothetical optimal distributions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on exposure to the selected risk factors from the 2007 Japanese National Health and Nutrition Survey and from epidemiological studies, and information on the number of deaths in 2007 from different diseases from official records. They used published studies to estimate how much each factor increases the risk of death from each disease and then used a mathematical formula to estimate the effects of the risk factors on the number of deaths in Japan and on life expectancy at age 40. In 2007, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure accounted for 129,000 and 104,000 deaths, respectively, in Japan. Physical inactivity accounted for 52,000 deaths, high blood glucose and high dietary salt intake accounted for 34,000 deaths each, and alcohol use for 31,000 deaths. Life expectancy at age 40 in 2007 would have been extended by 1.4 years for both sexes, the researchers estimate, if exposure to multiple cardiovascular risk factors had been reduced to calculated optimal distributions, or by 0.7 years if these risk factors had been reduced to the distributions defined by national guidelines and goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify tobacco smoking and high blood pressure as the major risk factors for death from non-communicable diseases among adults in Japan, a result consistent with previous findings from the US. They also indicate that simultaneous control of multiple risk factors has great potential for producing health gains among the Japanese population. Although the researchers focused on estimating the effect of these risk factors on mortality and did not include illness and disability in this study, these findings nevertheless identify two areas of public health policy that need to be strengthened to improve health, reduce death rates, and increase life expectancy among the Japanese population. First, they highlight the need to reduce tobacco smoking, particularly among men. Second and most importantly, these findings emphasize the need to improve ongoing programs designed to help people manage multiple cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001160.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living
The World Health Report 2002—Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life provides a global analysis of how healthy life expectancy could be increased
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society provide information on many important risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and include some personal stories about keeping healthy
Details about Health Japan 21 are provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Further details about this campaign are available from the World Health Organization
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on healthy living and on healthy aging (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001160
PMCID: PMC3265534  PMID: 22291576
7.  Lifestyle risk factors and residual life expectancy at age 40: a German cohort study 
BMC Medicine  2014;12:59.
Background
Cigarette smoking, adiposity, unhealthy diet, heavy alcohol drinking and physical inactivity together are associated with about half of premature deaths in Western populations. The aim of this study was to estimate their individual and combined impacts on residual life expectancy (RLE).
Methods
Lifestyle and mortality data from the EPIC-Heidelberg cohort, comprising 22,469 German adults ≥40 years and free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer at recruitment (1994–1998), were analyzed with multivariable Gompertz proportional hazards models to predict lifetime survival probabilities given specific baseline status of lifestyle risk factors. The life table method was then used to estimate the RLEs.
Results
For 40-year-old adults, the most significant loss of RLE was associated with smoking (9.4 [95% confidence interval: 8.3, 10.6] years for male and 7.3 [6.0, 8.9] years for female heavy smokers [>10 cigarettes/day]; 5.3 [3.6, 7.1] years for men and 5.0 [3.2, 6.6] years for women smoking ≤10 cigarettes/day). Other lifestyle risk factors associated with major losses of RLE were low body mass index (BMI <22.5 kg/m2, 3.5 [1.8, 5.1] years for men; 2.1 [0.5, 3.6] years for women), obesity (BMI ≥30, 3.1 [1.9, 4.4] years for men; 3.2 [1.8, 5.1] years for women), heavy alcohol drinking (>4 drinks/day, 3.1 [1.9, 4.0] years for men), and high processed/red meat consumption (≥120 g/day, 2.4 [1.0, 3.9] years for women). The obesity-associated loss of RLE was stronger in male never smokers, while the loss of RLE associated with low BMI was stronger in current smokers. The loss of RLE associated with low leisure time physical activity was moderate for women (1.1 [0.05, 2.1] years) and negligible for men (0.4 [−0.3, 1.2] years). The combined loss of RLE for heavy smoking, obesity, heavy alcohol drinking and high processed/red meat consumption, versus never smoking, optimal BMI (22.5 to 24.9), no/light alcohol drinking and low processed/red meat consumption, was 17.0 years for men and 13.9 years for women.
Conclusions
Promoting healthy lifestyles, particularly no cigarette smoking and maintaining healthy body weight, should be the core component of public health approaches to reducing premature deaths in Germany and similar affluent societies.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-59
PMCID: PMC4022368  PMID: 24708705
Lifestyle risk factors; Residual life expectancy; Cohort study
8.  Adverse Lifestyle Leads to an Annual Excess of 2 Million Deaths in China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89650.
Background
Adverse lifestyle factors have been associated with increased mortality, but data are lacking on their combined effect in developing populations, which we address in the present study.
Methods
In a death registry-based, case-control study among Hong Kong Chinese aged 30+y, proxy-reported lifestyle factors 10 y ago were collected for 21,363 cases (81% of all deaths) and 12,048 living controls. Risks associated with poor diet, inactivity, heavy alcohol intake, and smoking for all-cause and cause-specific mortality, adjusting for potential confounders, were determined, and excess deaths for the Chinese population were calculated.
Results
Adjusted odds ratios for all-cause mortality were 1.15 (95% CI 1.09, 1.23), 1.34 (1.27, 1.43), 1.36 (1.21, 1.52), and 1.58 (1.46, 1.70) for poor diet, inactivity, heavy alcohol intake and smoking, respectively. Increasing numbers of adverse lifestyle factors were associated with a dose-dependent increase in adjusted odds ratios of 1.30 (1.20, 1.40), 1.67 (1.54, 1.81), 2.32 (2.08, 2.60), and 3.85 (3.12, 4.75) for 1, 2, 3, and 4 risk factors relative to those with none. The population attributable fraction for all-cause, all-CVD and all-cancer mortality were 26.6%, 15.0%, and 32.1%, resulting in an excess of 2,017,541; 489,884; and 607,517 deaths annually, respectively. Although smoking was associated with the greatest excess loss of life (867,530), heavy drinking (680,466), and physical inactivity (678,317) were similarly important.
Conclusion
Adverse lifestyle factors contribute to one quarter of all deaths in China. Improving lifestyle practices, particularly focussing on moderating alcohol intake and increasing activity, and smoking cessation are critical to reducing the lifestyle-associated health burden.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089650
PMCID: PMC3935915  PMID: 24586936
9.  The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(4):e1000058.
Majid Ezzati and colleagues examine US data on risk factor exposures and disease-specific mortality and find that smoking and hypertension, which both have effective interventions, are responsible for the largest number of deaths.
Background
Knowledge of the number of deaths caused by risk factors is needed for health policy and priority setting. Our aim was to estimate the mortality effects of the following 12 modifiable dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors in the United States (US) using consistent and comparable methods: high blood glucose, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and blood pressure; overweight–obesity; high dietary trans fatty acids and salt; low dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids (seafood), and fruits and vegetables; physical inactivity; alcohol use; and tobacco smoking.
Methods and Findings
We used data on risk factor exposures in the US population from nationally representative health surveys and disease-specific mortality statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics. We obtained the etiological effects of risk factors on disease-specific mortality, by age, from systematic reviews and meta-analyses of epidemiological studies that had adjusted (i) for major potential confounders, and (ii) where possible for regression dilution bias. We estimated the number of disease-specific deaths attributable to all non-optimal levels of each risk factor exposure, by age and sex. In 2005, tobacco smoking and high blood pressure were responsible for an estimated 467,000 (95% confidence interval [CI] 436,000–500,000) and 395,000 (372,000–414,000) deaths, accounting for about one in five or six deaths in US adults. Overweight–obesity (216,000; 188,000–237,000) and physical inactivity (191,000; 164,000–222,000) were each responsible for nearly 1 in 10 deaths. High dietary salt (102,000; 97,000–107,000), low dietary omega-3 fatty acids (84,000; 72,000–96,000), and high dietary trans fatty acids (82,000; 63,000–97,000) were the dietary risks with the largest mortality effects. Although 26,000 (23,000–40,000) deaths from ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes were averted by current alcohol use, they were outweighed by 90,000 (88,000–94,000) deaths from other cardiovascular diseases, cancers, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, alcohol use disorders, road traffic and other injuries, and violence.
Conclusions
Smoking and high blood pressure, which both have effective interventions, are responsible for the largest number of deaths in the US. Other dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors for chronic diseases also cause a substantial number of deaths in the US.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
A number of modifiable factors are responsible for many premature or preventable deaths. For example, being overweight or obese shortens life expectancy, while half of all long-term tobacco smokers in Western populations will die prematurely from a disease directly related to smoking. Modifiable risk factors fall into three main groups. First, there are lifestyle risk factors. These include tobacco smoking, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use (small amounts of alcohol may actually prevent diabetes and some types of heart disease and stroke). Second, there are dietary risk factors such as a high salt intake and a low intake of fruits and vegetables. Finally, there are “metabolic risk factors,” which shorten life expectancy by increasing a person's chances of developing cardiovascular disease (in particular, heart problems and strokes) and diabetes. Metabolic risk factors include having high blood pressure or blood cholesterol and being overweight or obese.
Why Was This Study Done?
It should be possible to reduce preventable deaths by changing modifiable risk factors through introducing public health policies, programs and regulations that reduce exposures to these risk factors. However, it is important to know how many deaths are caused by each risk factor before developing policies and programs that aim to improve a nation's health. Although previous studies have provided some information on the numbers of premature deaths caused by modifiable risk factors, there are two problems with these studies. First, they have not used consistent and comparable methods to estimate the number of deaths attributable to different risk factors. Second, they have rarely considered the effects of dietary and metabolic risk factors. In this new study, the researchers estimate the number of deaths due to 12 different modifiable dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors for the United States population. They use a method called “comparative risk assessment.” This approach estimates the number of deaths that would be prevented if current distributions of risk factor exposures were changed to hypothetical optimal distributions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data on exposures to these 12 selected risk factors from US national health surveys, and they obtained information on deaths from difference diseases for 2005 from the US National Center for Health Statistics. They used previously published studies to estimate how much each risk factor increases the risk of death from each disease. The researchers then used a mathematical formula to estimate the numbers of deaths caused by each risk factor. Of the 2.5 million US deaths in 2005, they estimate that nearly half a million were associated with tobacco smoking and about 400,000 were associated with high blood pressure. These two risk factors therefore each accounted for about 1 in 5 deaths in US adults. Overweight–obesity and physical inactivity were each responsible for nearly 1 in 10 deaths. Among the dietary factors examined, high dietary salt intake had the largest effect, being responsible for 4% of deaths in adults. Finally, while alcohol use prevented 26,000 deaths from ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, and diabetes, the researchers estimate that it caused 90,000 deaths from other types of cardiovascular diseases, other medical conditions, and road traffic accidents and violence.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that smoking and high blood pressure are responsible for the largest number of preventable deaths in the US, but that several other modifiable risk factors also cause many deaths. Although the accuracy of some of the estimates obtained in this study will be affected by the quality of the data used, these findings suggest that targeting a handful of risk factors could greatly reduce premature mortality in the US. The findings might also apply to other countries, although the risk factors responsible for most preventable deaths may vary between countries. Importantly, effective individual-level and population-wide interventions are already available to reduce people's exposure to the two risk factors responsible for most preventable deaths in the US. The researchers also suggest that combinations of regulation, pricing, and education have the potential to reduce the exposure of US residents to other risk factors that are likely to shorten their lives.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000058.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on healthy living (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living
Healthy People 2010 is a national framework designed to improve the health of people living in the US. The Healthy People 2020 Framework is due to be launched in January 2010
The World Health Report 2002Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life provides a global analysis of how healthy life expectancy could be increased
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is “a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's site Smoking and Tobacco Use offers a large number of informational and data resources on this important risk factor
The American Heart Association and American Cancer Society provide a rich resource for patients and caregivers on many important risk factors including diet, sodium intake, and smoking
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000058
PMCID: PMC2667673  PMID: 19399161
10.  Smoking and high-risk mammographic parenchymal patterns: a case-control study 
Breast Cancer Research  1999;2(1):59-63.
Current smoking was strongly and inversely associated with high-risk patterns, after adjustment for concomitant risk factors. Relative to never smokers, current smokers were significantly less likely to have a high-risk pattern. Similar results were obtained when the analysis was confined to postmenopausal women. Past smoking was not related to the mammographic parenchymal patterns. The overall effect in postmenopausal women lost its significance when adjusted for other risk factors for P2/DY patterns that were found to be significant in the present study, although the results are still strongly suggestive. The present data indicate that adjustment for current smoking status is important when evaluating the relationship between mammographic parenchymal pattern and breast cancer risk. They also indicate that smoking is a prominent potential confounder when analyzing effects of other risk factors such as obesity-related variables. It appears that parenchymal patterns may act as an informative biomarker of the effect of cigarette smoking on breast cancer risk.
Introduction:
Overall, epidemiological studies [1,2,3,4] have reported no substantial association between cigarette smoking and the risk of breast cancer. Some studies [5,6,7] reported a significant increase of breast cancer risk among smokers. In recent studies that addressed the association between breast cancer and cigarette smoking, however, there was some suggestion of a decreased risk [8,9,10], especially among current smokers, ranging from approximately 10 to 30% [9,10]. Brunet et al [11] reported that smoking might reduce the risk of breast cancer by 44% in carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. Wolfe [12] described four different mammographic patterns created by variations in the relative amounts of fat, epithelial and connective tissue in the breast, designated N1, P1, P2 and DY. Women with either P2 or DY pattern are considered at greater risk for breast cancer than those with N1 or P1 pattern [12,13,14,15]. There are no published studies that assessed the relationship between smoking and mammographic parenchymal patterns.
Aims:
To evaluate whether mammographic parenchymal patterns as classified by Wolfe, which have been positively associated with breast cancer risk, are affected by smoking. In this case-control study, nested within the European Prospective Investigation on Cancer in Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk) cohort [16], the association between smoking habits and mammographic parenchymal patterns are examined. The full results will be published elsewhere.
Methods:
Study subjects were members of the EPIC cohort in Norwich who also attended the prevalence screening round at the Norwich Breast Screening Centre between November 1989 and December 1997, and were free of breast cancer at that screening. Cases were defined as women with a P2/DY Wolfe's mammographic parenchymal pattern on the prevalence screen mammograms. A total of 203 women with P2/DY patterns were identified as cases and were individually matched by date of birth (within 1 year) and date of prevalence screening (within 3 months) with 203 women with N1/P1 patterns who served as control individuals.
Two views, the mediolateral and craniocaudal mammograms, of both breasts were independently reviewed by two of the authors (ES and RW) to determine the Wolfe mammographic parenchymal pattern.
Considerable information on health and lifestyle factors was available from the EPIC Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire [16]. In the present study we examined the subjects' personal history of benign breast diseases, menstrual and reproductive factors, oral contraception and hormone replacement therapy, smoking, and anthropometric information such as body mass index and waist:hip ratio.
Odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated by conditional logistic regression [17], and were adjusted for possible confounding factors.
Results:
The characteristics of the cases and controls are presented in Table 1. Cases were leaner than controls. A larger percentage of cases were nulliparous, premenopausal, current hormone replacement therapy users, had a personal history of benign breast diseases, and had had a hysterectomy. A larger proportion of controls had more than three births and were current smokers.
Table 2 shows the unadjusted and adjusted OR estimates for Wolfe's high-risk mammographic parenchymal patterns and smoking in the total study population and in postmenopausal women separately. Current smoking was strongly and inversely associated with high-risk patterns, after adjustment for concomitant risk factors. Relative to never smokers, current smokers were significantly less likely to have a high-risk pattern (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14-0.94). Similar results were obtained when the analysis was confined to postmenopausal women. Past smoking was not related to mammographic parenchymal patterns. The overall effect in postmenopausal women lost its significance when adjusted for other risk factors for P2/DY patterns that were found to be significant in the present study, although the results were still strongly suggestive. There was no interaction between cigarette smoking and body mass index.
Discussion:
In the present study we found a strong inverse relationship between current smoking and high-risk mammographic parenchymal patterns of breast tissue as classified by Wolfe [12]. These findings are not completely unprecedented; Greendale et al [18] found a reduced risk of breast density in association with smoking, although the magnitude of the reduction was unclear. The present findings suggest that this reduction is large.
Recent studies [9,10] have suggested that breast cancer risk may be reduced among current smokers. In a multicentre Italian case-control study, Braga et al [10] found that, relative to nonsmokers, current smokers had a reduced risk of breast cancer (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.7-1.0). These findings were recently supported by Gammon et al [9], who reported that breast cancer risk in younger women (younger than 45 years) may be reduced among current smokers who began smoking at an early age (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.41-0.85 for age 15 years or younger) and among long-term smokers (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.52-0.94 for those who had smoked for 21 years or more).
The possible protective effect of smoking might be due to its anti-oestrogenic effect [1,2,19]. Recently there has been renewed interest in the potential effect of smoking on breast cancer risk, and whether individuals may respond differently on the basis of differences in metabolism of bioproducts of smoking [20,21]. Different relationships between smoking and breast cancer risk have been suggested that are dependent on the rapid or slow status of acetylators of aromatic amines [20,21]. More recent studies [22,23], however, do not support these findings.
The present study design minimized the opportunity for bias to influence the findings. Because subjects were unaware of their own case-control status, the possibility of recall bias in reporting smoking status was minimized. Systematic error in the assessment of mammograms was avoided because reading was done without knowledge of the risk factor data. Furthermore, the associations observed are unlikely to be explained by the confounding effect of other known breast cancer risk factors, because we adjusted for these in the analysis. We did not have information on passive smoking status, however, which has recently been reported to be a possible confounder [5,6,21,24].
The present data indicate that adjustment for current smoking status is important when evaluating the relationship between mammographic parenchymal pattern and breast cancer risk. They also indicate smoking as a prominent potential confounder when analyzing effects of other risk factors such as obesity-related variables. It seems that parenchymal patterns may act as an informative biomarker of the effect of cigarette smoking on breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC13911  PMID: 11056684
mammography; screening; smoking; Wolfe's parenchymal patterns
11.  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
12.  Current and Former Smoking and Risk for Venous Thromboembolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001515.
In a meta-analysis of 32 observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 events, Suhua Wu and colleagues found that current, ever, and former smoking was associated with risk of venous thromboembolism.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for atherosclerotic disease, but its role as an independent risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE) remains controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize all published prospective studies and case-control studies to update the risk for VTE in smokers and determine whether a dose–response relationship exists.
Methods and Findings
We performed a literature search using MEDLINE (source PubMed, January 1, 1966 to June 15, 2013) and EMBASE (January 1, 1980 to June 15, 2013) with no restrictions. Pooled effect estimates were obtained by using random-effects meta-analysis. Thirty-two observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 VTE events were identified. Compared with never smokers, the overall combined relative risks (RRs) for developing VTE were 1.17 (95% CI 1.09–1.25) for ever smokers, 1.23 (95% CI 1.14–1.33) for current smokers, and 1.10 (95% CI 1.03–1.17) for former smokers, respectively. The risk increased by 10.2% (95% CI 8.6%–11.8%) for every additional ten cigarettes per day smoked or by 6.1% (95% CI 3.8%–8.5%) for every additional ten pack-years. Analysis of 13 studies adjusted for body mass index (BMI) yielded a relatively higher RR (1.30; 95% CI 1.24–1.37) for current smokers. The population attributable fractions of VTE were 8.7% (95% CI 4.8%–12.3%) for ever smoking, 5.8% (95% CI 3.6%–8.2%) for current smoking, and 2.7% (95% CI 0.8%–4.5%) for former smoking. Smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 (95% CI 15.4–26.7) cases per 100,000 person-years.
Conclusions
Cigarette smoking is associated with a slightly increased risk for VTE. BMI appears to be a confounding factor in the risk estimates. The relationship between VTE and smoking has clinical relevance with respect to individual screening, risk factor modification, and the primary and secondary prevention of VTE.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Blood normally flows throughout the human body, supplying its organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But, when an injury occurs, proteins called clotting factors make the blood gel (coagulate) at the injury site. The resultant clot (thrombus) plugs the wound and prevents blood loss. Occasionally, a thrombus forms inside an uninjured blood vessel and partly or completely blocks the blood flow. Clot formation inside one of the veins deep within the body, usually in a leg, is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected limb. DVT can be treated with drugs that stop the blood clot from getting larger (anticoagulants) but, if left untreated, part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. DVT and pulmonary embolism are collectively known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). Risk factors for VTE include having an inherited blood clotting disorder, oral contraceptive use, prolonged inactivity (for example, during a long-haul plane flight), and having surgery. VTEs are present in about a third of all people who die in hospital and, in non-bedridden populations, about 10% of people die within 28 days of a first VTE event.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some but not all studies have reported that smoking is also a risk factor for VTE. A clear demonstration of a significant association (a relationship unlikely to have occurred by chance) between smoking and VTE might help to reduce the burden of VTE because smoking can potentially be reduced by encouraging individuals to quit smoking and through taxation policies and other measures designed to reduce tobacco consumption. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers examine the link between smoking and the risk of VTE in the general population and investigate whether heavy smokers have a higher risk of VTE than light smokers. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 32 observational studies (investigations that record a population's baseline characteristics and subsequent disease development) that provided data on smoking and VTE. Together, the studies involved nearly 4 million participants and recorded 35,151 VTE events. Compared with never smokers, ever smokers (current and former smokers combined) had a relative risk (RR) of developing VTE of 1.17. That is, ever smokers were 17% more likely to develop VTE than never smokers. For current smokers and former smokers, RRs were 1.23 and 1.10, respectively. Analysis of only studies that adjusted for body mass index (a measure of body fat and a known risk factor for conditions that affect the heart and circulation) yielded a slightly higher RR (1.30) for current smokers compared with never smokers. For ever smokers, the population attributable fraction (the proportional reduction in VTE that would accrue in the population if no one smoked) was 8.7%. Notably, the risk of VTE increased by 10.2% for every additional ten cigarettes smoked per day and by 6.1% for every additional ten pack-years. Thus, an individual who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 40 years had a 26.7% higher risk of developing VTE than someone who had never smoked. Finally, smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 cases of VTE per 100,000 person-years.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that cigarette smoking is associated with a statistically significant, slightly increased risk for VTE among the general population and reveal a dose-relationship between smoking and VTE risk. They cannot prove that smoking causes VTE—people who smoke may share other unknown characteristics (confounding factors) that are actually responsible for their increased risk of VTE. Indeed, these findings identify body mass index as a potential confounding factor that might affect the accuracy of estimates of the association between smoking and VTE risk. Although the risk of VTE associated with smoking is smaller than the risk associated with some well-established VTE risk factors, smoking is more common (globally, there are 1.1 billion smokers) and may act synergistically with some of these risk factors. Thus, smoking behavior should be considered when screening individuals for VTE and in the prevention of first and subsequent VTE events.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001515.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on deep vein thrombosis (including an animation about how DVT causes pulmonary embolism), and information on pulmonary embolism
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information on deep vein thrombosis, including personal stories, and on pulmonary embolism; SmokeFree is a website provided by the UK National Health Service that offers advice on quitting smoking
The non-profit organization US National Blood Clot Alliance provides detailed information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism for patients and professionals and includes a selection of personal stories about these conditions
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages)
Smokefree.gov, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
MedlinePlus has links to further information about deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and the dangers of smoking (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001515
PMCID: PMC3775725  PMID: 24068896
13.  Alcohol Consumption at Midlife and Successful Ageing in Women: A Prospective Cohort Analysis in the Nurses' Health Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(9):e1001090.
Using the Nurses' Health Study, Qi Sun and colleagues examine whether moderate alcohol intake is associated with overall health and well-being among women who survive to older age.
Background
Observational studies have documented inverse associations between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of premature death. It is largely unknown whether moderate alcohol intake is also associated with overall health and well-being among populations who have survived to older age. In this study, we prospectively examined alcohol use assessed at midlife in relation to successful ageing in a cohort of US women.
Methods and Findings
Alcohol consumption at midlife was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Subsequently, successful ageing was defined in 13,894 Nurses' Health Study participants who survived to age 70 or older, and whose health status was continuously updated. “Successful ageing” was considered as being free of 11 major chronic diseases and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations. Analyses were restricted to the 98.1% of participants who were not heavier drinkers (>45 g/d) at midlife. Of all eligible study participants, 1,491 (10.7%) achieved successful ageing. After multivariable adjustment of potential confounders, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption at midlife was associated with modestly increased odds of successful ageing. The odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.0 (referent) for nondrinkers, 1.11 (0.96–1.29) for ≤5.0 g/d, 1.19 (1.01–1.40) for 5.1–15.0 g/d, 1.28 (1.03–1.58) for 15.1–30.0 g/d, and 1.24 (0.87–1.76) for 30.1–45.0 g/d. Meanwhile, independent of total alcohol intake, participants who drank alcohol at regular patterns throughout the week, rather than on a single occasion, had somewhat better odds of successful ageing; for example, the odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.29 (1.01–1.64) and 1.47 (1.14–1.90) for those drinking 3–4 days and 5–7 days per week in comparison with nondrinkers, respectively, whereas the odds ratio was 1.10 (0.94–1.30) for those drinking only 1–2 days per week.
Conclusions
These data suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health status among women who survive to older ages.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have always drunk alcoholic beverages but throughout history there have been arguments about the risks and benefits of beer, wine, and spirits. It is clear that excessive alcohol use—heavy drinking (an average of more than two drinks per day for men or more than one drink per day for women; in the US, a “drink” is defined as 15 g of alcohol or, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine) or binge drinking (five or more drinks on a single occasion for men; 4 or more drinks at one time for women)—is harmful. It causes liver damage and increases the risk of developing some types of cancer. It contributes to depression and violence and interferes with relationships. And it is often implicated in fatal traffic accidents. However, in contrast to these and other harms associated with excessive alcohol use, moderate alcohol consumption seems to reduce the risk of specific diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cognitive decline (deterioration in learning, reasoning, and perception).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk of premature death compared to abstainers or heavy drinkers, it is not known whether moderate alcohol consumption is associated with overall health among ageing populations. In many countries, elderly people are an increasingly large part of the population, so it is important to know how moderate alcohol consumption affects their well-being. In this study, the researchers examine the effect of alcohol consumption at midlife on successful ageing among the participants of the Nurses' Health Study. The researchers study the effect of midlife alcohol consumption because the chronic conditions that affect elderly people develop slowly and it is likely that factors in earlier life determine health in later life. Successful ageing is defined as being free of major chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health problems. The Nurses' Health Study enrolled 121,700 female registered nurses in 1976 to investigate the long-term effects of oral contraceptive use but has provided insights into many aspects of health and disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assessed the alcohol consumption of the study participants at midlife (average age 58 years) from food frequency questionnaires completed in 1980 and 1984. Successful ageing for 13,984 participants who survived past 70 years was assessed by analyzing biennial health status questionnaires and cognitive function test results. One tenth of the women achieved successful ageing. After allowing for other factors that might affect their health such as smoking, women who drank light or moderate amounts of alcohol had a modestly increased chance of successful ageing compared to nondrinkers. For example, compared to nondrinkers, women who drank 5–15 g of alcohol per day (between one-third and one drink per day) had about a 20% higher chance of successful ageing. Independent of total alcohol intake, women who drank alcohol regularly had a better chance of successful ageing than occasional drinkers. Thus, compared to nondrinkers, women who drank five to seven days a week had nearly a 50% greater chance of successful ageing whereas women who drank only one or two days a week had a similar likelihood of successful ageing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health among women who survive to older ages. Because this is an observational study, it is possible that the women who drank moderately share other unknown characteristics that are actually responsible for their increased chance of successful ageing. Moreover, because all the study participants were women and most had European ancestry, these findings cannot be applied to men or to other ethnic groups. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for the 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, which state that consumption of up to one alcoholic drink per day for women and up to two alcoholic drinks per day for men may provide health benefits. Importantly, they also suggest that drinking alcohol regularly in moderation rather than occasional heavy drinking may be associated with a greater likelihood of successful ageing.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090.
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has detailed information about alcohol and its effects on health, including a fact sheet on women and alcohol and a booklet entitled Alcohol, a woman's health issue
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including how to calculate consumption
The Nutrition Source, a website maintained by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, has an article entitled Alcohol: balancing risks and benefits
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol and on seniors' health
Details of the Nurses' Health Study are available
The 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090
PMCID: PMC3167795  PMID: 21909248
14.  Diet and lifestyle risk factors associated with incident hypertension in women 
Context
Hypertension is an important preventable risk factor for death among women. While several modifiable risk factors have been identified, their combined risk and distribution in the population has not been assessed.
Objective
To estimate the hypothetical fraction of hypertension associated with dietary and lifestyle factors in women.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Prospective cohort study of 83,882 adult women aged 27-44 years in the second Nurses’ Health Study who were free from hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer in 1991, and who had normal reported blood pressures (defined as 120/80 or less), with follow-up for incident hypertension for 14 years through 2005. We identified 6 modifiable lifestyle and dietary factors for hypertension and defined 6 low risk categories: body mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2, a daily mean of 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, a DASH style diet, modest alcohol intake up to 10 g/day, non-narcotic analgesic use less than once per week, and intake of 400 μg/day or more of supplemental folic acid. We analyzed the association between combinations of three (normal body mass index, daily vigorous exercise, and DASH style diet), four (three low risk factors plus modest alcohol intake), five (four low risk factors plus avoidance of analgesics), and six (addition of folic acid supplements) low risk factors and the risk of developing hypertension.
Main Outcome Measures
Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for incident self-reported hypertension and population attributable risks.
Results
A total of 12,319 incident cases of hypertension were documented. All six modifiable factors were independently associated with the risk of developing hypertension during follow-up after also adjusting for age, race, family history of hypertension, smoking status, and use of oral contraceptives. For women who had all six low-risk factors (0.3% of the population), the hazard ratio for incident hypertension was 0.22 (95% CI, 0.10-0.51); the hypothetical population attributable risk (PAR) was 78% (95% CI, 49-90%) for women who lacked these low-risk factors. The corresponding hypothetical absolute incidence rate difference (ARD) was 8.37 cases per 1000 person-years. The PARs were 72% (95% CI, 57-82%; ARD=7.76) for 5 low risk factors (0.8% of the population), 58% (95% CI, 46-67%; ARD=6.28) for 4 low risk factors (1.6% of the population), and 53% (95% CI, 45-60%; ARD=6.02) for 3 low risk factors (3.1% of the population). BMI alone was the most powerful predictor, with BMI ≥25 kg/m2 having an adjusted PAR of 40% (95%CI, 38%-41%) compared with BMI <25 kg/m2.
Conclusion
Adherence to low-risk dietary and lifestyle factors was associated with a significantly lower incidence of self-reported hypertension. Adopting low risk dietary and lifestyle factors has the potential to prevent a large proportion of new onset hypertension occurring among young women.
doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1060
PMCID: PMC2803081  PMID: 19622819
15.  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
16.  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
17.  The clustering of health behaviours in Ireland and their relationship with mental health, self-rated health and quality of life 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:692.
Background
Health behaviours do not occur in isolation. Rather they cluster together. It is important to examine patterns of health behaviours to inform a more holistic approach to health in both health promotion and illness prevention strategies. Examination of patterns is also important because of the increased risk of mortality, morbidity and synergistic effects of health behaviours. This study examines the clustering of health behaviours in a nationally representative sample of Irish adults and explores the association of these clusters with mental health, self-rated health and quality of life.
Methods
TwoStep Cluster analysis using SPSS was carried out on the SLÁN 2007 data (national Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition, n = 10,364; response rate =62%; food frequency n = 9,223; cluster analysis n = 7,350). Patterns of smoking, drinking alcohol, physical activity and diet were considered. Associations with positive and negative mental health, quality of life and self-rated health were assessed.
Results
Six health behaviour clusters were identified: Former Smokers, 21.3% (n = 1,564), Temperate, 14.6% (n = 1,075), Physically Inactive, 17.8% (n = 1,310), Healthy Lifestyle, 9.3% (n = 681), Multiple Risk Factor, 17% (n = 1248), and Mixed Lifestyle, 20% (n = 1,472). Cluster profiles varied with men aged 18-29 years, in the lower social classes most likely to adopt unhealthy behaviour patterns. In contrast, women from the higher social classes and aged 65 years and over were most likely to be in the Healthy Lifestyle cluster. Having healthier patterns of behaviour was associated with positive lower levels of psychological distress and higher levels of energy vitality.
Conclusion
The current study identifies discernible patterns of lifestyle behaviours in the Irish population which are similar to those of our European counterparts. Healthier clusters (Former Smokers, Temperate and Healthy Lifestyle) reported higher levels of energy vitality, lower levels of psychological distress, better self-rated health and better quality of life. In contrast, those in the Multiple Risk Factor cluster had the lowest levels of energy and vitality and the highest levels of psychological distress. Identification of these discernible patterns because of their relationship with mortality, morbidity and longevity is important for identifying national and international health behaviour patterns.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-692
PMCID: PMC3187756  PMID: 21896196
18.  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
19.  Associations of job strain and lifestyle risk factors with risk of coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis of individual participant data 
Background:
It is unclear whether a healthy lifestyle mitigates the adverse effects of job strain on coronary artery disease. We examined the associations of job strain and lifestyle risk factors with the risk of coronary artery disease.
Methods:
We pooled individual-level data from 7 cohort studies comprising 102 128 men and women who were free of existing coronary artery disease at baseline (1985–2000). Questionnaires were used to measure job strain (yes v. no) and 4 lifestyle risk factors: current smoking, physical inactivity, heavy drinking and obesity. We grouped participants into 3 lifestyle categories: healthy (no lifestyle risk factors), moderately unhealthy (1 risk factor) and unhealthy (2–4 risk factors). The primary outcome was incident coronary artery disease (defined as first nonfatal myocardial infarction or cardiac-related death).
Results:
There were 1086 incident events in 743 948 person-years at risk during a mean follow-up of 7.3 years. The risk of coronary artery disease among people who had an unhealthy lifestyle compared with those who had a healthy lifestyle (hazard ratio [HR] 2.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.18–2.98; population attributable risk 26.4%) was higher than the risk among participants who had job strain compared with those who had no job strain (HR 1.25, 95% CI 1.06–1.47; population attributable risk 3.8%). The 10-year incidence of coronary artery disease among participants with job strain and a healthy lifestyle (14.7 per 1000) was 53% lower than the incidence among those with job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle (31.2 per 1000).
Interpretation:
The risk of coronary artery disease was highest among participants who reported job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle; those with job strain and a healthy lifestyle had half the rate of disease. A healthy lifestyle may substantially reduce disease risk among people with job strain.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.121735
PMCID: PMC3680555  PMID: 23670152
20.  Impact of Lifestyle-Related Factors on All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;35(1):105-112.
OBJECTIVE
To examine whether combined lifestyle behaviors have an impact on all-cause and cause-specific mortality in patients aged 30–94 years with type 2 diabetes (T2DM).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Participants included 5,686 patients >30 years old with T2DM who were enrolled in a Diabetes Care Management Program at a medical center in central Taiwan before 2007. Lifestyle behaviors consisted of smoking, alcohol drinking, physical inactivity, and carbohydrate intake. The main outcomes were all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the association between combined lifestyle behaviors and mortality.
RESULTS
The mortality rate among men was 24.10 per 1,000 person-years, and that among women was 17.25 per 1,000 person-years. After adjusting for the traditional risk factors, we found that combined lifestyle behavior was independently associated with all-cause mortality and mortality due to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Patients with three or more points were at a 3.50-fold greater risk of all-cause mortality (95% CI 2.06–5.96) and a 4.94-fold (1.62–15.06), 4.24-fold (1.20–14.95), and 1.31-fold (0.39–4.41) greater risk of diabetes-specific, CVD-specific, and cancer-specific mortality, respectively, compared with patients with zero points. Among these associations, the combined lifestyle behavior was not significantly associated with cancer mortality.
CONCLUSIONS
Combined lifestyle behavior is a strong predictor of all-cause and cause-specific mortality in patients with T2DM.
doi:10.2337/dc11-0930
PMCID: PMC3241333  PMID: 22124717
21.  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
22.  Marital status and ischemic heart disease incidence and mortality in women: a large prospective study 
BMC Medicine  2014;12:42.
Background
Being married has been associated with a lower mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) in men, but there is less evidence of an association for women, and it is unclear whether the associations with being married are similar for incident and for fatal IHD. We examined the relation between marital status and IHD incidence and mortality in the Million Women Study.
Methods
A total of 734,626 women (mean age 60 years) without previous heart disease, stroke or cancer, were followed prospectively for hospital admissions and deaths. Adjusted relative risks (RRs) for IHD were calculated using Cox regression in women who were married or living with a partner versus women who were not. The role of 14 socio-economic, lifestyle and other potential confounding factors was investigated.
Results
81% of women reported being married or living with a partner and they were less likely to live in deprived areas, to smoke or be physically inactive, but had a higher alcohol intake than women who were not married or living with a partner. During 8.8 years of follow-up, 30,747 women had a first IHD event (hospital admission or death) and 2,148 died from IHD. Women who were married or living with a partner had a similar risk of a first IHD event as women who were not (RR = 0.99, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96 to 1.02), but a significantly lower risk of IHD mortality (RR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.80, P <0.0001). This lower risk of IHD death was evident both in women with and without a prior IHD hospital admission (respectively: RR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.85, P <0.0001, n = 683; and 0.70, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.78, P <0.0001, n = 1,465). These findings did not vary appreciably between women of different socio-economic groups or by lifestyle and other factors.
Conclusions
After adjustment for socioeconomic, lifestyle and other factors, women who were married or living with a partner had a similar risk of developing IHD but a substantially lower IHD mortality compared to women who were not married or living with a partner.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-42
PMCID: PMC4103700  PMID: 24618083
Marital status; Ischemic heart disease; Incidence; Mortality; Women
23.  Effects of a combined lifestyle score on 10-year mortality in Korean men and women: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:673.
Background
Most studies that have evaluated the association between combined lifestyle factors and mortality outcomes have been conducted in populations of Caucasian origin. The objective of this study was to examine the association between combined lifestyle scores and the risk of mortality in Korean men and women.
Methods
The study population included 59,941 Koreans, 30–84 years of age, who had visited the Severance Health Promotion Center between 1994 and 2003. Cox regression models were fitted to establish the association between combined lifestyle factors (current smoker, heavy daily alcohol use, overweight or obese weight, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet) and mortality outcomes.
Results
During 10.3 years of follow-up, there were 2,398 cases of death from any cause. Individual and combined lifestyle factors were found to be associated with the risk of mortality. Compared to those having none or only one risk factor, in men with a combination of four lifestyle factors, the relative risk for cancer mortality was 2.04-fold, for non-cancer mortality 1.92-fold, and for all-cause mortality 2.00-fold. In women, the relative risk was 2.00-fold for cancer mortality, 2.17-fold for non-cancer mortality, and 2.09-fold for all-cause mortality. The population attributable risks for all-cause mortality for the four risk factors combined was 44.5% for men and 26.5% for women.
Conclusion
This study suggests that having a high (unhealthy) lifestyle score, in contrast to a low (healthy) score, can substantially increase the risk of death by any cause, cancer, and non-cancer in Korean men and women.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-673
PMCID: PMC3490935  PMID: 22900981
Lifestyle factor; Mortality; Cohort study; Population attributable risk
24.  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
25.  Incidence of and risk factors for Motor Neurone Disease in UK women: a prospective study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:25.
Background
Motor neuron disease (MND) is a severe neurodegenerative disease with largely unknown etiology. Most epidemiological studies are hampered by small sample sizes and/or the retrospective collection of information on behavioural and lifestyle factors.
Methods
1.3 million women from the UK Million Women Study, aged 56 years on average at recruitment, were followed up for incident and/or fatal MND using NHS hospital admission and mortality data. Adjusted relative risks were calculated using Cox regression models.
Findings
During follow-up for an average of 9·2 years, 752 women had a new diagnosis of MND. Age-specific rates increased with age, from 1·9 (95% CI 1·3 – 2·7) to 12·5 (95% CI 10·2 – 15·3) per 100,000 women aged 50–54 to 70–74, respectively, giving a cumulative risk of diagnosis with the disease of 1·74 per 1000 women between the ages of 50 and 75 years. There was no significant variation in risk of MND with region of residence, socio-economic status, education, height, alcohol use, parity, use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy. Ever-smokers had about a 20% greater risk than never smokers (RR 1·19 95% CI 1·02 to 1·38, p = 0·03). There was a statistically significant reduction in risk of MND with increasing body mass index (pfor trend = 0·009): obese women (body mass index, 30 kg/m2 or more) had a 20% lower risk than women of normal body mass index (20 to <25 Kg/m2)(RR 0·78 95% CI 0·65-0·94; p = 0·03). This effect persisted after exclusion of the first three years of follow-up.
Interpretation
MND incidence in UK women rises rapidly with age, and an estimated 1 in 575 women are likely to be affected between the ages of 50 and 75 years. Smoking slightly increases the risk of MND, and adiposity in middle age is associated with a lower risk of the disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-25
PMCID: PMC3512483  PMID: 22559076
Motor Neurone Disease; UK; Epidemiology; Incidence; Risk Factors; Smoking; Body Mass Index

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