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1.  Endothelial Function and Serum Concentration of Toxic Metals in Frequent Consumers of Fish 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112478.
Endothelial dysfunction is involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Consumption of fish is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk, but there is paucity of data concerning its effect on endothelial function. Furthermore, investigation of the effects of fish consumption on health must take into account the ingestion of contaminants, including transition metals and some metalloids, which may have unfavorable effects on health, including those on the cardiovascular system. We investigated the association between fish consumption, endothelial function (flow mediated dilation of the brachial artery), and serum concentration of some toxic metals in apparently healthy people.
Twenty-nine high fish consumers (at least 3 portions a week) were compared with 25 low fish consumers (less than 1 portion a week). All participants were free of diabetes, cardiovascular or other systemic diseases. Serum metal (antimonium, arsenic, mercury, lead, cobalt, copper, zinc, selenium, strontium) concentrations were measured in subgroups of 24 high fish consumers and 19 low fish consumers.
Both groups exhibited similar habitual dietary patterns, age and anthropometric characteristics. The high fish consumers had higher flow mediated dilation (9.7±1.8 vs. 7.3±1.9%; P<0.001), but also higher serum concentrations of mercury (5.87±2.69 vs. 1.65±1.10 mcg/L; P<0.001) and arsenic (6.04±3.25 vs. 2.30±1.58 mcg/L; P<0.001). The fasting plasma glucose concentrations were significantly correlated with both mercury (r = 0.39; P = 0.01) and arsenic concentrations (r = 0.55; P<0.001).
Habitual consumption of high amounts of fish is associated with better endothelial function despite higher serum concentrations of mercury and arsenic.
PMCID: PMC4234466  PMID: 25401695
2.  Estimated dietary intake and major food sources of polyphenols in the Polish arm of the HAPIEE study☆ 
The aim of this study was to estimate the intake of known individual polyphenols and their major dietary sources in the Polish arm of the HAPIEE (Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors In Eastern Europe) study.
A total of 10,477 random sample (45–69 y) of urban population of Krakow, Poland, completed a validated 148-item food frequency questionnaire. Polyphenol intake was calculated by matching food consumption data with the recently developed Phenol-Explorer database.
The mean intake of polyphenols was 1756.5 ± 695.8 mg/d (median = 1662.5 mg/d). The main polyphenol groups were flavonoids (897 mg/d) and phenolic acids (800 mg/d). A total of 347 polyphenols from 19 polyphenol subclasses were found. The individual compounds with the highest intakes were isomers of chlorogenic acid (i.e., 5-caffeoylquinic acid and 4-caffeoylquinic acid) among hydroxycinnamic acids (average intake 150 mg/d), that largely originated from coffee, and compounds belonging to the catechin chemical family (i.e., [+]-gallocatechin, [-]-epigallocatechin 3-O-gallate, and [-]-epicatechin) among flavanols (average intake 50 mg/d), that mostly originated from tea and cocoa products.
The current study provides the most updated data for individual polyphenols intake in the diet of a well-established nutritional cohort. These findings will be useful to assess potential beneficial role on health of specific foods with high polyphenol content and characterize the effects of individual phenolic compounds.
PMCID: PMC4192147  PMID: 25280419
Polyphenols; Intake; General population; Food sources; Polish adults
3.  Factors Associated With Metabolic Syndrome in a Mediterranean Population: Role of Caffeinated Beverages 
Journal of Epidemiology  2014;24(4):327-333.
Intake of caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and tea, has been related to improvements in components of metabolic syndrome (MetS), but studies conducted in the Mediterranean region are scarce. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether or not consumption of a variety of beverages containing caffeine was associated with components of MetS in an Italian population.
From May 2009 to December 2010, a cross-sectional survey was conducted on 1889 inhabitants living in Sicily, southern Italy. Data regarding demographic characteristics, habitual beverage intake, and adherence to the Mediterranean diet were collected, and clinical information was retrieved from the general practitioners’ computer records.
After adjusting for all covariates, coffee (odds ratio [OR] 0.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.27–0.70) and tea (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.34–0.78) were associated with MetS, whereas no association was observed between caffeine intake and MetS. Among other factors, age, body mass index, physical activity, current smoking, and adherence to Mediterranean diet were associated with having MetS. Triglycerides were inversely associated with consumption of both espresso coffee and tea. The healthy effects of such beverages were more evident in individuals with unhealthy dietary habits.
Although no direct association between caffeine intake and MetS or its components was observed, coffee and tea consumption was significantly related to reduced odds of MetS.
PMCID: PMC4074638  PMID: 24806662
coffee; tea; polyphenols; caffeine; metabolic syndrome; cardiovascular risk factors
4.  Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Treatment of Depressive Disorders: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96905.
Despite omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplementation in depressed patients have been suggested to improve depressive symptomatology, previous findings are not univocal.
To conduct an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of omega-3 PUFA treatment of depressive disorders, taking into account the clinical differences among patients included in the studies.
A search on MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Database of RCTs using omega-3 PUFA on patients with depressive symptoms published up to August 2013 was performed. Standardized mean difference in clinical measure of depression severity was primary outcome. Type of omega-3 used (particularly eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) and omega-3 as mono- or adjuvant therapy was also examined. Meta-regression analyses assessed the effects of study size, baseline depression severity, trial duration, dose of omega-3, and age of patients.
Meta-analysis of 11 and 8 trials conducted respectively on patients with a DSM-defined diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD) and patients with depressive symptomatology but no diagnosis of MDD demonstrated significant clinical benefit of omega-3 PUFA treatment compared to placebo (standardized difference in random-effects model 0.56 SD [95% CI: 0.20, 0.92] and 0.22 SD [95% CI: 0.01, 0.43], respectively; pooled analysis was 0.38 SD [95% CI: 0.18, 0.59]). Use of mainly EPA within the preparation, rather than DHA, influenced final clinical efficacy. Significant clinical efficacy had the use of omega-3 PUFA as adjuvant rather than mono-therapy. No relation between efficacy and study size, baseline depression severity, trial duration, age of patients, and study quality was found. Omega-3 PUFA resulted effective in RCTs on patients with bipolar disorder, whereas no evidence was found for those exploring their efficacy on depressive symptoms in young populations, perinatal depression, primary disease other than depression and healthy subjects.
The use of omega-3 PUFA is effective in patients with diagnosis of MDD and on depressive patients without diagnosis of MDD.
PMCID: PMC4013121  PMID: 24805797
5.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms 
The changing of omega-6/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the food supply of Western societies occurred over the last 150 years is thought to promote the pathogenesis of many inflammatory-related diseases, including depressive disorders. Several epidemiological studies reported a significant inverse correlation between intake of oily fish and depression or bipolar disorders. Studies conducted specifically on the association between omega-3 intake and depression reported contrasting results, suggesting that the preventive role of omega-3 PUFA may depend also on other factors, such as overall diet quality and the social environment. Accordingly, tertiary prevention with omega-3 PUFA supplement in depressed patients has reached greater effectiveness during the last recent years, although definitive statements on their use in depression therapy cannot be yet freely asserted. Among the biological properties of omega-3 PUFA, their anti-inflammatory effects and their important role on the structural changing of the brain should be taken into account to better understand the possible pathway through which they can be effective both in preventing or treating depression. However, the problem of how to correct the inadequate supply of omega-3 PUFA in the Westernized countries' diet is a priority in order to set food and health policies and also dietary recommendations for individuals and population groups.
PMCID: PMC3976923  PMID: 24757497
6.  Habitual fish intake and clinically silent carotid atherosclerosis 
Nutrition Journal  2014;13:2.
Fish consumption is recommended as part of a healthy diet. However, there is a paucity of data concerning the relation between fish consumption and carotid atherosclerosis. We investigated the association between habitual fish consumption and asymptomatic carotid atherosclerosis, defined as the presence of plaques and/or increased intima-media thickness (≥ 0.90 mm), in non-diabetic participants.
Nine hundred-sixty-one (range of age: 18–89 yrs; 37.1% males) adult participants without clinically known atherosclerotic disease were randomly recruited among the customers of a shopping mall in Palermo, Italy, and cross-sectionally investigated. Each participant answered a food frequency questionnaire and underwent high-resolution ultrasonographic evaluation of both carotid arteries. Routine laboratory blood measurements were obtained in a subsample of 507 participants.
Based on habitual fish consumption, participants were divided into three groups: non-consumers or consumers of less than 1 serving a week (24.0%), consumers of 1 serving a week (38.8%), and consumers of ≥ 2 servings a week (37.2%). Age-adjusted prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis (presence of plaques or intima media thickness ≥ 0.9 mm) was higher in the low fish consumption group (13.3%, 12.1% and 6.6%, respectively; P = 0.003). Multivariate analysis evidenced that carotid atherosclerosis was significantly associated with age (OR = 1.12; 95% CI = 1.09-1.14), hypertension on pharmacologic treatment (OR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.16-2.82), and pulse pressure (OR = 1.03; 95% CI = 1.01-1.04), while consuming ≥2 servings of fish weekly was protective compared with the condition of consumption of <1 serving of fish weekly (OR = 0.46; 95% CI = 0.26-0.80).
High habitual fish consumption seems to be associated with less carotid atherosclerosis, though adequate interventional trials are necessary to confirm the role of fish consumption in prevention of cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3893519  PMID: 24405571
Fish consumption; Carotid atherosclerosis; Carotid intima-media thickness; Hypertension; Pulse pressure
7.  Impact of chronic diuretic treatment on glucose homeostasis 
The use of diuretics for hypertension has been associated with unfavorable changes in cardiovascular risk factors, such as uric acid and glucose tolerance, though the findings in the literature are contradictory.
This study investigated whether diuretic use is associated with markers of metabolic and cardiovascular risk, such as insulin-resistance and uric acid, in a cohort of adults without known diabetes and/or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Nine hundred sixty-nine randomly selected participants answered a questionnaire on clinical history and dietary habits. Laboratory blood measurements were obtained in 507 participants.
Previously undiagnosed type 2 diabetes was recognized in 4.2% of participants who were on diuretics (n = 71), and in 2% of those who were not (n = 890; P = 0.53). Pre-diabetes was diagnosed in 38% of patients who were on diuretics, and in 17.4% (P < 0.001) of those who were not. Multivariate analysis showed that insulin-resistance (HOMA-IR) was associated with the use of diuretics (P = 0.002) independent of other well-known predisposing factors, such as diet, physical activity, body mass index, and waist circumference. The use of diuretics was also independently associated with fasting plasma glucose concentrations (P = 0.001) and uric acid concentrations (P = 0.01).
The use of diuretics is associated with insulin-resistance and serum uric acid levels and may contribute to abnormal glucose tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3880098  PMID: 24330854
Diuretics; Hypertension; Insulin resistance; Type 2 diabetes; Uric acid
8.  Factors Associated with Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet among Adolescents Living in Sicily, Southern Italy 
Nutrients  2013;5(12):4908-4923.
The present study aimed to examine the factors associated with increased Mediterranean diet (MD) adherence among a sample of Italian adolescents. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 1135 students (13–16 years) attending 13 secondary schools of Sicily, southern Italy. Validated instruments were used for dietary assessment and the KIDMED score to assess adolescents’ adherence to the MD. A higher adherence to the MD was associated with high socioeconomic status (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.53, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 1.03–2.26) and high physical activity (OR 1.19, 95% CI: 1.02–1.70), whereas lower adherence was associated with living in an urban environment (OR 0.65, 95% CI: 0.44–0.97) and being obese (OR 0.59, 95% CI: 0.37–0.94). The adolescents’ KIDMED scores were inversely associated with adolescents’ intake of sweets, fast foods, fried foods, and sugary drinks, and directly with fruit, vegetables, pasta, fish, and cheese intakes. Urban-living adolescents were less likely to eat fruit and more prone to consume meat, sugary drinks, and fast food than rural-living adolescents. The latter were more likely to eat sweets and snacks. A general poor quality of food consumption in Italian adolescents away from the MD was reported, especially among those living in urban areas.
PMCID: PMC3875926  PMID: 24304608
adolescents; Mediterranean diet; food intake; obesity; environment; nutrition transition
9.  Mediterranean diet and cancer: epidemiological evidence and mechanism of selected aspects 
BMC Surgery  2013;13(Suppl 2):S14.
Populations living in the area of the Mediterranean Sea suffered by decreased incidence of cancer compared with those living in the regions of northern Europe and US countries, attributed to healthier dietary habits. Nowadays, we are assisting to a moving away from the traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern, but whether this changing is influencing risk of cancers is still unclear. The aim of the study was to review recent evidence on potential relationship between the adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cancer.
The most recent pooled analyses of epidemiological studies supported strongly the hypothesis that the Mediterranean diet may play a role in preventing several types of cancers, especially those of digestive tract, whereas contrasting results were reported for hormone-dependent cancers. Specific aspects of the Mediterranean diet such as high fruit and vegetables and low red processed meat intake may explain such protective effects. Moreover, evidence regarding olive oil and whole grains increase the beneficial effects of such dietary pattern against cancer.
Literature evidence actually demonstrates that the increased adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern is beneficial to health across populations and may translate a protective effect with certain cancers.
PMCID: PMC3850991  PMID: 24267672
10.  Pharmacological and dietary prevention for colorectal cancer 
BMC Surgery  2013;13(Suppl 2):S16.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality. People at higher risk are those individuals with a family history of CRC and familial adenomatous polyposis. Prevention and screening are two milestones for this disease. The aim of this study is to evaluate the chemopreventive role of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors, some micronutrients (folic acid, calcium, selenium, antioxidants) and probiotics.
The studies on aspiring reported promising results, but it is debatable whether aspirin should be used as chemoprevention, because of its side effects and because of poor efficacy evident in subjects at high risk. Similar results were reported for other non-aspirin NSAIDs, such as sulindac and celecoxib, which the potential adverse effects limit their use. Selenium role in prevention of various types of cancer as well as in colon adenomas are often inconclusive or controversial. Several studies suggested that calcium may have a possible chemopreventive effect on colon adenomas and CRC, although contrasting results are reported for the latter. A recent meta-analysis including 13 randomized trial suggested that folic acid supplementation had not a chemiopreventive action on CRC. Several studies investigated the association between antioxidants, administered alone or in combination, and CRC risk, both among general and at risk population, but only few of them supported statistically significant results.
The results of this literature review showed an unclear role in CRC prevention of both pharmacological and dietary intervention. Despite several options are available to prevent colon cancer, it is challenging to identify a correct strategy to prevent CRC through pharmacological and dietary intervention due to the long latency of cancer promotion and development. Since some of the drugs investigated may have uncertain individual effects, it can be suggested to potentiate such effects by adding them together.
PMCID: PMC3851139  PMID: 24267792
11.  Laparoscopic vs. open approach for colorectal cancer: evolution over time of minimal invasive surgery 
BMC Surgery  2013;13(Suppl 2):S12.
In the late '80s the successes of the laparoscopic surgery for gallbladder disease laid the foundations on the modern use of this surgical technique in a variety of diseases. In the last 20 years, laparoscopic colorectal surgery had become a popular treatment option for colorectal cancer patients.
Many studies emphasized on the benefits stating the significant advantages of the laparoscopic approach compared with the open surgery of reduced blood loss, early return of intestinal motility, lower overall morbidity, and shorter duration of hospital stay, leading to a general agreement on laparoscopic surgery as an alternative to conventional open surgery for colon cancer. The reduced hospital stay may also decrease the cost of the laparoscopic surgery for colorectal cancer, despite th higher operative spending compared with open surgery. The average reduction in total direct costs is difficult to define due to the increasing cost over time, making challenging the comparisons between studies conducted during a time range of more than 10 years. However, despite the theoretical advantages of laparoscopic surgery, it is still not considered the standard treatment for colorectal cancer patients due to technical limitations or the characteristics of the patients that may affect short and long term outcomes.
The laparoscopic approach to colectomy is slowly gaining acceptance for the management of colorectal pathology. Laparoscopic surgery for colon cancer demonstrates better short-term outcome, oncologic safety, and equivalent long-term outcome of open surgery. For rectal cancer, laparoscopic technique can be more complex depending on the tumor location. The advantages of minimally invasive surgery may translate better care quality for oncological patients and lead to increased cost saving through the introduction of active enhanced recovery programs which are likely cost-effective from the perspective of the hospital health-care providers.
PMCID: PMC3851244  PMID: 24267544
12.  Social disparities, health risk behaviors, and cancer 
BMC Surgery  2013;13(Suppl 2):S17.
Overall cancer incidence rates decreased in the most recent time period in both men and women, largely due to improvements in surgical therapeutic approaches (tertiary prevention) and screening programs (secondary prevention), but differences in cancer incidence and survival according to socioeconomic status are documented worldwide. Health risk behaviors, defined as habits or practices that increase an individual’s likelihood of harmful health outcomes, are thought to mediate such inequalities.
Obesity has been related with increased cancer incidence and mortality due to imbalance of leptin and adiponectin which are connected to activation of PI3K, MAPK, and STAT3 pathways and decreasing insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and mTOR signaling via activation of 5 AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), respectively. Physical activity has been associated to prevent cancer by the aforementioned obesity-related mechanisms, but also increasing level of circulating vitamin D, which has been related to lower risk of several cancers, and increasing prostaglandin F2a and reducing prostaglandin E2, which are both related with cancer prevention and promotion, respectively. A large number of different substances may induce themselves a direct cytotoxicity and mutagenic action on cells by smoking, whereas alcohol promote immune suppression, the delay of DNA repair, inhibition of the detoxification of carcinogens, the production of acetaldehyde, and the contribution to abnormal DNA methylation. The combined smoking and alcohol drinking habits have been shown to increase cancer risk by smoke action of increasing the acetaldehyde burden following alcohol consumption and alcohol action of enhancing the activation of various procarcinogens contained in tobacco smoke.
Interventions at the social level may be done to increase awareness about cancer risks and promote changing in unhealthy behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3851246  PMID: 24267900
13.  Health related quality of life in colorectal cancer patients: state of the art 
BMC Surgery  2013;13(Suppl 2):S15.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in males and the second in females with a progressive increase in prevalence in industrialized countries. The loss of health due to the cancer and/or the consequence of the treatment may result in psychophysical, functional and social impairment; all of these affect health-related quality of life (QoL).
The most frequently CRC-specific QoL questionnaires is the FACT-C. QoL is not only important for the well-being of cancer patient but it also influences survival and response to therapy. Many studies investigated various determinants involved in the assessment of QoL in CRC, suggesting that symptoms, surgical procedures and the number of comorbidity significantly affected QoL.
Despite that CRC patients have a relatively good QoL compared with the general population, a wide range of intervention could be undertaken to improve their QoL. The finding of this review may be useful for cancer clinicians in taking therapy and surveillance-related decisions. However, future research should be directed to large-scale prospective studies using well validated QoL instruments to facilitate comparison of results.
PMCID: PMC3851259  PMID: 24267735
14.  Red Orange: Experimental Models and Epidemiological Evidence of Its Benefits on Human Health 
In recent years, there has been increasing public interest in plant antioxidants, thanks to the potential anticarcinogenic and cardioprotective actions mediated by their biochemical properties. The red (or blood) orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck) is a pigmented sweet orange variety typical of eastern Sicily (southern Italy), California, and Spain. In this paper, we discuss the main health-related properties of the red orange that include anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular protection activities. Moreover, the effects on health of its main constituents (namely, flavonoids, carotenoids, ascorbic acid, hydroxycinnamic acids, and anthocyanins) are described. The red orange juice demonstrates an important antioxidant activity by modulating many antioxidant enzyme systems that efficiently counteract the oxidative damage which may play an important role in the etiology of numerous diseases, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer. The beneficial effects of this fruit may be mediated by the synergic effects of its compounds. Thus, the supply of natural antioxidant compounds through a balanced diet rich in red oranges might provide protection against oxidative damage under differing conditions and could be more effective than, the supplementation of an individual antioxidant.
PMCID: PMC3659473  PMID: 23738032
15.  Laparoscopic-Assisted Versus Open Surgery for Colorectal Cancer: Short- and Long-Term Outcomes Comparison 
Despite the theoretical advantages of laparoscopic surgery, it is still not considered the standard treatment for colorectal cancer patients because of criticism concerning oncologic stability. This study aimed at examining the short- and long-term follow-up results of laparoscopic surgery versus open surgery for colorectal cancer and at investigating clinical outcomes, oncologic safety, and any potential advantages of laparoscopic colorectal cancer resection.
Subjects and Methods
We retrospectively analyzed a database containing the information about patients who underwent surgery for stage I–III colorectal cancer from January 2004 to January 2012 at our institution.
The patients who underwent the laparoscopic-assisted procedure showed a significantly faster recovery than those who underwent open surgery, namely, less time to first passing flatus (P=.041), time of first bowel motion (P=.04), time to resume normal diet (P=.043), and time to walk independently (P=.031). Laparoscopic colorectal surgery caused less pain for patients, leading to lower need of analgesic (P=.002) and less hospital recovery time (P=.034), compared with patients who underwent open surgery. No differences were found in 3- and 5-year overall and disease-free survival rates.
Our results suggested that the laparoscopic approach was as safe as the open alternative. Laparoscopic-assisted surgery has been shown to be a favorable surgical option with better short-term outcomes and similar long-term oncological control compared with open resection.
PMCID: PMC3698686  PMID: 23004676
16.  Major postoperative complications and survival for colon cancer elderly patients 
BMC Surgery  2012;12(Suppl 1):S20.
Increased life expectancy has led to elevating the mean age of the patients at the time of diagnosis of colon cancer and subsequent treatment. Differences in complication rates and outcome between elderly and younger patients have been investigated.
We retrospectively analysed a database containing the information of patients who underwent surgery for stage I-III colorectal cancer from January 2004 to January 2012 at our institution and compared demographic, cancer-related, and outcomes data of 235 elderly patients with 211 patients ≤65 years old.
Intraoperative complications did not differ between young and old patients whereas some differences have been found in postoperative and late complications: elderly patients suffered more by ileus (P = 0.024), peritonitis or septic shock (P = 0.017), pelvic abscess (P = 0.028), wound infection (P = 0.031), and incisional/port herniation (P = 0.012) compared with younger patients. Moreover, elderly patients suffered by systemic complications such as cardiovascular (4.7% vs. 1.4%, P = 0.049), renal (4.7% vs. 0.5%, P = 0.006), and respiratory (10.6% vs. 5.2%, P = 0.036). The multivariate analysis assessing the odds of having a complication revealed that older age (Odd Ratio [OR] 2.75, 95% Confidential Interval [CI]: 1.67-4.52) and open surgery (OR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.01-2.62) are significantly and independently associated with having a complication.
In our series, elderly patients have presented a slight higher incidence of comorbidities that may affect the incidence rates of postoperative complications. These results have implications in increasing the hospital stay as well as a higher rate of death.
PMCID: PMC3499273  PMID: 23173563
17.  Long-Term Persistence of Seroprotection by Hepatitis B Vaccination in Healthcare Workers of Southern Italy 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(9):e6025.
The impact of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination campaigns on HBV epidemiology needs to be evaluated, in order to assess the long-term immunity offered by vaccines against HBV.
To evaluate the current status of anti-HBV vaccine coverage among healthcare workers (HCWs) in Southern Italy, and to determine the long-term persistence of antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigens (anti-HBs) in such a cohort of subjects.
Patients and Methods
A longitudinal, retrospective seroepidemiological survey was conducted among 451 HCWs, who were working at or visiting, the Occupational Health Department of a city hospital, in Catania, Italy, between January 1976 and December 2010.
At the 30-year follow-up (mean follow-up 10.15 ± 5.96 years, range 0.74-30), 261 HCWs had detectable anti-HBs titers indicating a persistence of seroprotection of 89.4% (out of 292 anti-HBs positive results, three months after vaccination). An inadequate vaccination schedule was the strongest predictor of antibody loss during follow-up (OR = 8.37 95% CI: 5.41-12.95, P < 0.001). A Kaplan-Maier survival curve revealed that the persistence of anti-HBs 30 years after vaccination, was 92.2% for high responders, while it was only 27.3% for low responders (P = 0.001).
A good level of seroprotection persisted in 57.9% of the subjects after 30 years. Factors related to this immunization status confirmed the importance of vaccinating HCWs early in their careers and ensuring an adequate vaccination schedule. However, with particular reference to the low rate of hepatitis B vaccine coverage among HCWs in Southern Italy, the implementation of a new educational intervention as part of an active vaccination program is needed.
PMCID: PMC3475028  PMID: 23087756
Hepatitis B Virus; Vaccines; Health Personnel; Vaccination
18.  Congenital talipes equinovarus: an epidemiological study in Sicily 
Acta Orthopaedica  2012;83(3):294-298.
Background and purpose
Congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot) can present in 2 forms: “syndromic”, in which other malformations exist, and the more common “idiopathic” form, where there are no other associated malformations. We analyzed the epidemiology of congenital talipes equinovarus in the Sicilian population, looking for potential etiological factors.
Patients and methods
Among the 801,324 live births recorded between January 1991 and December 2004, 827 cases were registered (560 males; M/F sex ratio: 2.1). Control infants were randomly selected from a historical cohort of live births without any major congenital malformations.
A positive family history of clubfoot, gender, and maternal smoking were found to be risk factors for clubfoot. Patients with clubfoot were born most frequently during the period January–March. No association was found between clubfoot and reproductive history, peri-conceptional maternal drug exposure, maternal education, or ethnicity.
Our findings emphasize the importance of birth defects surveillance programs and their usefulness in investigating potential risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3369158  PMID: 22489891
19.  Worldwide epidemiology of liver hydatidosis including the Mediterranean area 
The worldwide incidence and prevalence of cystic echinococcosis have fallen dramatically over the past several decades. Nonetheless, infection with Echinococcus granulosus (E. granulosus) remains a major public health issue in several countries and regions, even in places where it was previously at low levels, as a result of a reduction of control programmes due to economic problems and lack of resources. Geographic distribution differs by country and region depending on the presence in that country of large numbers of nomadic or semi-nomadic sheep and goat flocks that represent the intermediate host of the parasite, and their close contact with the final host, the dog, which mostly provides the transmission of infection to humans. The greatest prevalence of cystic echinococcosis in human and animal hosts is found in countries of the temperate zones, including several parts of Eurasia (the Mediterranean regions, southern and central parts of Russia, central Asia, China), Australia, some parts of America (especially South America) and north and east Africa. Echinococcosis is currently considered an endemic zoonotic disease in the Mediterranean region. The most frequent strain associated with human cystic echinococcosis appears to be the common sheep strain (G1). This strain appears to be widely distributed in all continents. The purpose of this review is to examine the distribution of E. granulosus and the epidemiology of a re-emerging disease such as cystic echinococcosis.
PMCID: PMC3319938  PMID: 22509074
Epidemiology; Echinococcus granulosus; Cystic echinococcosis

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