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1.  A U-shaped relationship between haematocrit and mortality in a large prospective cohort study 
Background Only a limited number of studies have investigated the correlation between haematocrit (HCT) and mortality in the general population, and few of those studies have had data on a wide range of low and high levels of HCT. We investigated the association between baseline HCT and mortality in a prospective cohort study of 49 983 adult subjects in Iran with a broad spectrum of HCT values.
Methods Data on socio-demographic and life-style factors, past medical history, and levels of HCT were collected at enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 5 years (follow-up success rate ∼99%), 2262 deaths were reported. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals.
Results There was a U-shaped relationship between categories of HCT and mortality in both sexes: both low and high levels of HCT were associated with increased overall mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease. The U-shaped relationship persisted after several sensitivity analyses were done, including analyses restricted to non-smokers and non-users of opium; analyses excluding deaths from accidents and other external causes as well as deaths of persons with self-reported ischemic heart disease at the baseline interview for the study; and analyses excluding the first 2 years of follow-up. Self-reported past medical history and lack of data about lipids and other cellular blood components were the major limitations of the study.
Conclusions Low and high levels of HCT are associated with increased mortality in the general population. The findings in the present study can be of particular importance for low- and middle-income countries in which a substantial proportion of the population lives with suboptimal levels of HCT.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt013
PMCID: PMC3619954  PMID: 23569195
Anaemia; cancer; cardiovascular disease; erythrocytosis; haematocrit; mortality
2.  Determinants of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Including Hookah Smoking and Opium Use– A Cross-Sectional Analysis of 50,000 Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89256.
Background
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a common cause of discomfort and morbidity worldwide. However, information on determinants of GERD from large-scale studies in low- to medium-income countries is limited. We investigated the factors associated with different measures of GERD symptoms, including frequency, patient-perceived severity, and onset time.
Methods
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the baseline data from a population-based cohort study of ∼50,000 individuals in in Golestan Province, Iran. GERD symptoms in this study included regurgitation and/or heartburn.
Results
Approximately 20% of participants reported at least weekly symptoms. Daily symptoms were less commonly reported by men, those of Turkmen ethnicity, and nass chewers. On the other hand, age, body mass index, alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking, opium use, lower socioeconomic status, and lower physical activity were associated with daily symptoms. Most of these factors showed similar associations with severe symptoms. Women with higher BMI and waist to hip ratio were more likely to report frequent and severe GERD symptoms. Hookah smoking (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.02–1.75) and opium use (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.55–1.87) were associated with severe symptoms, whereas nass chewing had an inverse association (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76–0.99). After exclusion of cigarette smokers, hookah smoking was still positively associated and nass chewing was inversely associated with GERD symptoms (all frequencies combined).
Conclusion
GERD is common in this population. The associations of hookah and opium use and inverse association of nass use with GERD symptoms are reported for the first time. Further studies are required to investigate the nature of these associations. Other determinants of GERD were mostly comparable to those reported elsewhere.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089256
PMCID: PMC3931722  PMID: 24586635
3.  Smoking water-pipe, chewing nass, and prevalence of heart disease – A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the Golestan Cohort Study, Iran 
Heart (British Cardiac Society)  2012;99(4):272-278.
Objective
Water-pipe and smokeless tobacco use have been associated with several adverse health outcomes. However, little information is available on the association between water-pipe use and heart disease (HD). Therefore, we investigated the association of smoking water-pipe and chewing nass (a mixture of tobacco, lime, and ash) with prevalent HD.
Design
Cross-sectional study.
Setting
Baseline data (collected in 2004–2008) from a prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
Participants
50,045 residents of Golestan (40–75 years old; 42.4% male).
Main outcome measures
ORs and 95% CIs from multivariate logistic regression models for the association of water-pipe and nass use with HD prevalence.
Results
A total of 3051 (6.1%) participants reported a history of HD, and 525 (1.1%) and 3726 (7.5%) reported ever water-pipe or nass use, respectively. Heavy water-pipe smoking was significantly associated with HD prevalence (highest level of cumulative use versus never use, OR= 3.75; 95% CI 1.52 – 9.22; P for trend= 0.04). This association persisted when using different cutoff points, when restricting HD to those taking nitrate compound medications, and among never cigarette smokers. There was no significant association between nass use and HD prevalence (highest category of use versus never use, OR= 0.91; 95% CI 0.69 – 1.20).
Conclusions
Our study suggests a significant association between HD and heavy water-pipe smoking. Although the existing evidence suggesting similar biological consequences of water-pipe and cigarette smoking make this association plausible, results of our study were based on a modest number of water-pipe users and need to be replicated in further studies.
doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2012-302861
PMCID: PMC3671096  PMID: 23257174
hookah; ischemic heart disease; nass; tobacco; water-pipe
4.  The gastro-esophageal malignancies in Northern Iran research project: impact on the health research and health care systems in Iran 
Archives of Iranian medicine  2013;16(1):46-53.
Since 2000, considerable progress has been made in health research in Iran. An example of this progress has been the Gastro- Esophageal Malignancies in Northern Iran (GEMINI). The original aim of this project was to identify etiologic factors and prevention measures for upper gastrointestinal cancers in Northern provinces of Iran, but its achievements have gone much beyond the initial goal. This project is one of the largest studies in the Middle East and North African region, has helped build and strengthen research capacity at both individual and institutional levels in Iran, and has provided international credibility to research institutes and the wider research system in Iran. The success of GEMINI reveals the feasibility of large-scale studies in developing countries and serves as a successful model not only for health research institutes within Iran, but also for research systems in other developing countries. The outcomes of the project are numerous, including establishment of research networks, development of efficient methods for planning and implementation of research projects, and introduction of methodologies for project management, data management and usage of health technology. Finally and perhaps most importantly, GEMINI is among the few projects that has had a significant impact on the attitudes and concerns of decision makers in the health sector in Iran. It signifies the importance of investment in human resources and has proved that health policies should be health-based rather than patient-based. Here we review the impact of GEMINI on the health research system and the broader health care system of Iran and put these into a more global perspective.
PMCID: PMC3659328  PMID: 23273237
research design; prospective studies; pilot projects; feasibility studies; planning techniques; methods; cancer epidemiology; gastroenterology
5.  Prevalence, awareness and risk factors of hypertension in a large cohort of Iranian adult population 
Journal of hypertension  2013;31(7):1364-1371.
Background
There is considerable variation in hypertension prevalence and awareness, and their correlates, across different geographic locations and ethnic groups. We performed this cross-sectional analysis on data from the Golestan Cohort Study (GCS).
Methods
Enrollment in this study occurred in 2004–2008, and included 50,045 healthy subjects from Golestan Province in northeastern Iran. Hypertension was defined as a systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥140, a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥90, a prior diagnosis of hypertension, or the use of antihypertensive drugs. Potential correlates of hypertension and its awareness were analyzed by logistic regression adjusted for sex, age, BMI, place of residence, literacy, ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, black and green tea consumption and wealth score.
Results
Of the total cohort participants, 21,350 (42.7%) were hypertensive. Age-standardized prevalence of hypertension, using the 2001 WHO standard world population, was 41.8% (95%CI: 38.3%–45.2%). Hypertension was directly associated with female sex, increased BMI, Turkmen ethnicity, and lack of physical activity, and inversely associated with drinking black tea and wealth score. Among hypertensive subjects, 46.2% were aware of their disease, 17.6% were receiving antihypertensive medication, and 32.1% of the treated subjects had controlled hypertension. Hypertension awareness was greater among women, the elderly, overweight and obese subjects, and those with a higher wealth score.
Conclusions
Hypertension is highly prevalent in rural Iran, many of the affected individuals are unaware of their disease, and the rate of control by antihypertensive medications is low. Increasing hypertension awareness and access to health services, especially among less privileged residents are recommended.
doi:10.1097/HJH.0b013e3283613053
PMCID: PMC3766446  PMID: 23673348
hypertension; awareness; obesity; smoking; socioeconomic status
6.  Serum Ghrelin; A New Surrogate Marker of Gastric Mucosal Alterations in Upper Gastrointestinal Carcinogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74440.
Background
A few studies have indicated inverse relationships between serum ghrelin and gastric and esophageal cancers but those associations have been restricted to specific populations, including smokers and overweight individuals. We examined the association between ghrelin and gastroesophageal cancers and atrophic gastritis in a population-based setting.
Methods
In total 220 gastroesophageal cancers, comprising non-cardia and cardia gastric cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and age and gender-matched controls were recruited. Serum ghrelin, pepsinogen I/II ratio (PGI/II) and anti-H.pylori IgG antibodies were measured. Relationships between ghrelin and gastroesophageal cancers, after adjustment for PGI/II ratio, H.pylori status and smoking, were tested using logistic regression. Furthermore, in 125 endoscopically normal volunteers, with and without histological atrophic gastritis, the relationship with ghrelin was compared.
Results
Serum ghrelin (lowest vs. highest quintile) was inversely associated with gastric cancer: OR (95% CI) 8.71 (1.70–44.59) for cardia and 6.58 (1.26–34.46) for non-cardia cancer. Lower serum ghrelin was also associated with esophageal SCC: OR (95% CI) 5.69 (1.36–23.78), but not with esophageal adenocarcinoma. A similar association was observed between gastric cancer (cardia and non-cardia) and esophageal SCC when serum ghrelin was analysed as a continuous scaled variable. In endoscopically-normal volunteers, extensive atrophic gastritis was associated with low serum ghrelin [OR (95% CI) 0.25 (0.10–0.64)].
Conclusion
Inverse associations between ghrelin and some gastroesophageal cancers suggest a potential role for serum ghrelin as a biomarker of upper gastrointestinal cancers and atrophic gastritis. In areas with a high incidence of gastric and/or esophageal cancer, screening might be more effectively targeted to individuals with low serum ghrelin in addition to the PGI/II ratio.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074440
PMCID: PMC3787044  PMID: 24098650
7.  InterSCOPE Study: Associations Between Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Human Papillomavirus Serological Markers 
Background
The role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the causation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma is unclear. We examined the associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 28 centrally measured HPV serological markers in serum from six existing case–control studies conducted in regions with differing background risks of esophageal cancer.
Methods
We used centralized multiplex serology to test serum samples from 1561 case subjects and 2502 control subjects from six case–control studies for antibodies to the major HPV capsid protein (L1) and/or the early proteins E6 and/or E7 of eight high-risk, two low-risk, and four cutaneous HPV types. Study-specific odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for smoking, alcohol consumption, and other potential confounders. Pooled odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using either a linear mixed-effects approach or a joint fixed-effects approach. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
We found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E6 for HPV16 (OR = 1.89, 95% CI = 1.09 to 3.29, P = .023) and HPV6 (OR = 2.53, 95% CI = 1.51 to 4.25, P < .001) but not for other tested HPV types. There were no statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and antibodies to E7 for any of the tested HPV types. Simultaneous seropositivity for HPV16 E6 and E7 was rare (four case subjects, two control subjects; OR = 5.57, 95% CI = 0.90 to 34.35; P = .064). We also found statistically significant associations between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and capsid antibodies for the high-risk mucosal type HPV33 L1 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.69; P = .047) and the low-risk mucosal types HPV6 (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.42; P = .010) and HPV11 (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.56, P = .0036).
Conclusions
We found limited serological evidence of an association between esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and HPV in the populations studied. Although HPV does not appear to be an important risk factor for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, we cannot exclude the possibility that certain HPV types may be involved in a small subset of cancers.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djr499
PMCID: PMC3260131  PMID: 22228147
8.  Helicobacter pylori and Esophageal Cancer Risk -- A Meta-Analysis 
We conducted this meta-analysis to examine the association between H. pylori and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
We searched the PubMed database, the ISI database, and the references of the selected articles. Case-control or nested case-control studies were selected if they used serology or endoscopic methods to detect H. pylori in the stomach and if control subjects were not restricted to upper gastrointestinal tract cancer or peptic ulcer disease patients. A total of 19 studies were used for this analysis. Summary odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using the DerSimonian-Laird method. Q-statistics and I2 statistics were calculated to examine heterogeneity. Subgroup analyses were conducted by CagA status.
For EAC, the summary OR (95% CI) was 0.56 (0.46 – 0.68). There was little heterogeneity among studies (I2 = 15%). Further analysis showed that colonization with CagA-positive strains was inversely associated with EAC risk (OR (95%CI) 0.41 (0.28–0.62)) but colonization with CagA-negative strains was not (OR (95%CI) 1.08 (0.76–1.53)). For ESCC, the summary OR (95% CI) was 1.10 (0.78 – 1.55). However, there was substantial heterogeneity among studies (I2 = 73%), with statistically significant associations in both directions.
Our results suggest an inverse association between CagA-positive H. pylori colonization and risk of EAC. The prominent decline of H. pylori colonization in the past few decades may be partly responsible for the recent increase in EAC incidence in Western countries.
doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-08-0109
PMCID: PMC3501739  PMID: 19138977
Helicobacter pylori; CagA; esophageal cancer; adenocarcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma; colonization
9.  Is Opium a Real Risk Factor for Esophageal Cancer or Just a Methodological Artifact? Hospital and Neighborhood Controls in Case-Control Studies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32711.
Background
Control selection is a major challenge in epidemiologic case-control studies. The aim of our study was to evaluate using hospital versus neighborhood control groups in studying risk factors of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
Methodology/Principal Findings
We compared the results of two different case-control studies of ESCC conducted in the same region by a single research group. Case definition and enrollment were the same in the two studies, but control selection differed. In the first study, we selected two age- and sex-matched controls from inpatient subjects in hospitals, while for the second we selected two age- and sex-matched controls from each subject's neighborhood of residence. We used the test of heterogeneity to compare the results of the two studies. We found no significant differences in exposure data for tobacco-related variables such as cigarette smoking, chewing Nass (a tobacco product) and hookah (water pipe) usage, but the frequency of opium usage was significantly different between hospital and neighborhood controls. Consequently, the inference drawn for the association between ESCC and tobacco use did not differ between the studies, but it did for opium use. In the study using neighborhood controls, opium use was associated with a significantly increased risk of ESCC (adjusted OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.17–2.68), while in the study using hospital controls, this was not the case (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.63–1.87). Comparing the prevalence of opium consumption in the two control groups and a cohort enrolled from the same geographic area suggested that the neighborhood controls were more representative of the study base population for this exposure.
Conclusions/Significance
Hospital and neighborhood controls did not lead us to the same conclusion for a major hypothesized risk factor for ESCC in this population. Our results show that control group selection is critical in drawing appropriate conclusions in observational studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032711
PMCID: PMC3291619  PMID: 22396792
10.  Tea drinking habits and oesophageal cancer in a high risk area in northern Iran: population based case-control study 
Objective To investigate the association between tea drinking habits in Golestan province, northern Iran, and risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Design Population based case-control study. In addition, patterns of tea drinking and temperature at which tea was drunk were measured among healthy participants in a cohort study.
Setting Golestan province, northern Iran, an area with a high incidence of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Participants 300 histologically proved cases of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 571 matched neighbourhood controls in the case-control study and 48 582 participants in the cohort study.
Main outcome measure Odds ratio of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma associated with drinking hot tea.
Results Nearly all (98%) of the cohort participants drank black tea regularly, with a mean volume consumed of over one litre a day. 39.0% of participants drank their tea at temperatures less than 60°C, 38.9% at 60-64°C, and 22.0% at 65°C or higher. A moderate agreement was found between reported tea drinking temperature and actual temperature measurements (weighted κ 0.49). The results of the case-control study showed that compared with drinking lukewarm or warm tea, drinking hot tea (odds ratio 2.07, 95% confidence interval 1.28 to 3.35) or very hot tea (8.16, 3.93 to 16.9) was associated with an increased risk of oesophageal cancer. Likewise, compared with drinking tea four or more minutes after being poured, drinking tea 2-3 minutes after pouring (2.49, 1.62 to 3.83) or less than two minutes after pouring (5.41, 2.63 to 11.1) was associated with a significantly increased risk. A strong agreement was found between responses to the questions on temperature at which tea was drunk and interval from tea being poured to being drunk (weighted κ 0.68).
Conclusion Drinking hot tea, a habit common in Golestan province, was strongly associated with a higher risk of oesophageal cancer.
doi:10.1136/bmj.b929
PMCID: PMC3269898  PMID: 19325180
11.  Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Among Never Smokers in Golestan Province, Iran, an Area of High Incidence of Esophageal Cancer – a Cross-Sectional Study with Repeated Measurement of Urinary 1-OHPG in Two Seasons 
Studies have suggested a possible role of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the etiology of esophageal cancer in Golestan Province, Iran, where incidence of this cancer is very high. In order to investigate the patterns of non-smoking related exposure to PAHs in Golestan, we conducted a cross-sectional study collecting questionnaire data, genotyping polymorphisms related to PAH metabolism, and measuring levels of 1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide (1-OHPG), a PAH metabolite, in urine samples collected in two seasons from the same group of 111 randomly selected never-smoking women. Beta-coefficients for correlations between 1-OHPG as dependent variable and other variables were calculated using linear regression models. The creatinine-adjusted 1-OHPG levels in both winter and summer samples were approximately 110 μmol/molCr (P for seasonal difference = 0.40). In winter, red meat intake (β = 0.208; P = 0.03), processed meat intake (β = 0.218; P = 0.02), and GSTT1-02 polymorphism (“null” genotype: β = 0.228; P = 0.02) showed associations with 1-OHPG levels, while CYP1B1-07 polymorphism (GG versus AA + GA genotypes: β = –0.256; P = 0.008) showed an inverse association. In summer, making bread at home (> weekly versus never: β = 0.203; P = 0.04), second-hand smoke (exposure to ≥3 cigarettes versus no exposure: β = 0.254; P = 0.01), and GSTM1-02 “null” genotype (β = 0.198; P = 0.04) showed associations with 1-OHPG levels, but GSTP1-02 polymorphism (CT + TT versus CC: β = –0.218; P = 0.03) showed an inverse association. This study confirms high exposure of the general population in Golestan to PAHs and suggests that certain foods, cooking methods, and genetic polymorphisms increase exposure to PAHs.
doi:10.3389/fonc.2012.00014
PMCID: PMC3356003  PMID: 22655262
1-hydroxypyrene glucuronide; esophageal cancer; frying; red meat; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; polymorphism
12.  Extremely High Tp53 Mutation Load in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Golestan Province, Iran 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29488.
Background
Golestan Province in northeastern Iran has one of the highest incidences of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in the world with rates over 50 per 100,000 person-years in both sexes. We have analyzed TP53 mutation patterns in tumors from this high-risk geographic area in search of clues to the mutagenic processes involved in causing ESCC.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Biopsies of 119 confirmed ESCC tumor tissue from subjects enrolled in a case-control study conducted in Golestan Province were analyzed by direct sequencing of TP53 exons 2 through 11. Immunohistochemical staining for p53 was carried out using two monoclonal antibodies, DO7 and 1801. A total of 120 TP53 mutations were detected in 107/119 cases (89.9%), including 11 patients with double or triple mutations. The mutation pattern was heterogeneous with infrequent mutations at common TP53 “hotspots” but frequent transversions potentially attributable to environmental carcinogens forming bulky DNA adducts, including 40% at bases known as site of mutagenesis by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Mutations showed different patterns according to the reported temperature of tea consumption, but no variation was observed in relation to ethnicity, tobacco or opium use, and alcoholic beverage consumption or urban versus rural residence.
Conclusion/Significance
ESCC tumors in people from Golestan Province show the highest rate of TP53 mutations ever reported in any cancer anywhere. The heterogeneous mutation pattern is highly suggestive of a causative role for multiple environmental carcinogens, including PAHs. The temperature and composition of tea may also influence mutagenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029488
PMCID: PMC3246475  PMID: 22216294
13.  Accuracy and Cut-Off Values of Pepsinogens I, II and Gastrin 17 for Diagnosis of Gastric Fundic Atrophy: Influence of Gastritis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26957.
Background
To establish optimal cutoff values for serologic diagnosis of fundic atrophy in a high-risk area for oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma and gastric cancer with high prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in Northern Iran, we performed an endoscopy-room-based validation study.
Methods
We measured serum pepsinogens I (PGI) and II (PGII), gastrin 17 (G-17), and antibodies against whole H. pylori, or cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA) antigen among 309 consecutive patients in two major endoscopy clinics in northeastern Iran. Updated Sydney System was used as histology gold standard. Areas under curves (AUCs), optimal cutoff and predictive values were calculated for serum biomarkers against the histology.
Results
309 persons were recruited (mean age: 63.5 years old, 59.5% female). 84.5% were H. pylori positive and 77.5% were CagA positive. 21 fundic atrophy and 101 nonatrophic pangastritis were diagnosed. The best cutoff values in fundic atrophy assessment were calculated at PGI<56 µg/l (sensitivity: 61.9%, specificity: 94.8%) and PGI/PGII ratio<5 (sensitivity: 75.0%, specificity: 91.0%). A serum G-17<2.6 pmol/l or G-17>40 pmol/l was 81% sensitive and 73.3% specific for diagnosing fundic atrophy. At cutoff concentration of 11.8 µg/l, PGII showed 84.2% sensitivity and 45.4% specificity to distinguish nonatrophic pangastritis. Exclusion of nonatrophic pangastritis enhanced diagnostic ability of PGI/PGII ratio (from AUC = 0.66 to 0.90) but did not affect AUC of PGI. After restricting study samples to those with PGII<11.8, the sensitivity of using PGI<56 to define fundic atrophy increased to 83.3% (95%CI 51.6–97.9) and its specificity decreased to 88.8% (95%CI 80.8–94.3).
Conclusions
Among endoscopy clinic patients, PGII is a sensitive marker for extension of nonatrophic gastritis toward the corpus. PGI is a stable biomarker in assessment of fundic atrophy and has similar accuracy to PGI/PGII ratio among populations with prevalent nonatrophic pangastritis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026957
PMCID: PMC3204997  PMID: 22066020
14.  Diabetes Mellitus and Its Correlates in an Iranian Adult Population 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26725.
The rising epidemic of diabetes imposes a substantial economic burden on the Middle East. Using baseline data from a population based cohort study, we aimed to identify the correlates of diabetes mellitus (DM) in a mainly rural population from Iran. Between 2004 and 2007, 50044 adults between 30 and 87 years old from Golestan Province located in Northeast Iran were enrolled in the Golestan Cohort Study. Demographic and health-related information was collected using questionnaires. Individuals' body sizes at ages 15 and 30 were assessed by validated pictograms ranging from 1 (very lean) to 7 in men and 9 in women. DM diagnosis was based on the self-report of a physician's diagnosis. The accuracy of self-reported DM was evaluated in a subcohort of 3811 individuals using fasting plasma glucose level and medical records. Poisson regression with robust variance estimator was used to estimate prevalence ratios (PR's). The prevalence of self-reported DM standardized to the national and world population was 5.7% and 6.2%, respectively. Self-reported DM had 61.5% sensitivity and 97.6% specificity. Socioeconomic status was inversely associated with DM prevalence. Green tea and opium consumption increased the prevalence of DM. Obesity at all ages and extreme leanness in childhood increased diabetes prevalence. Being obese throughout life doubled DM prevalence in women (PR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.8, 2.4). These findings emphasize the importance of improving DM awareness, improving general living conditions, and early lifestyle modifications in diabetes prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026725
PMCID: PMC3203882  PMID: 22053206
15.  Prognostic Factors for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma—A Population-Based Study in Golestan Province, Iran, a High Incidence Area 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22152.
Golestan Province in northern Iran is an area with a high incidence of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We aimed to investigate prognostic factors for ESCC and survival of cases in Golestan, on which little data were available. We followed-up 426 ESCC cases participating in a population-based case-control study. Data were analyzed using the Kaplan–Meier method and the Cox proportional hazard models. Median survival was 7 months. Age at diagnosis was inversely associated with survival, but the association was disappeared with adjustment for treatment. Residing in urban areas (hazard ratio, HR = 0.70; 95% CI 0.54–0.90) and being of non-Turkmen ethnic groups (HR = 0.76; 95% CI 0.61–0.96) were associated with better prognosis. In contrast to other types of tobacco use, nass (a smokeless tobacco product) chewing was associated with a slightly poorer prognosis even in models adjusted for other factors including stage of disease and treatment (HR = 1.38; 95% CI 0.99–1.92). Opium use was associated with poorer prognosis in crude analyses but not in adjusted models. Almost all of potentially curative treatments were associated with longer survival. Prognosis of ESCC in Golestan is very poor. Easier access to treatment facilities may improve the prognosis of ESCC in Golestan. The observed association between nass chewing and poorer prognosis needs further investigations; this association may suggest a possible role for ingestion of nass constituents in prognosis of ESCC.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022152
PMCID: PMC3141005  PMID: 21811567
17.  Grand Challenges in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention 
doi:10.3389/fonc.2011.00003
PMCID: PMC3355922  PMID: 22649751
18.  Renal Function and Risk Factors of Moderate to Severe Chronic Kidney Disease in Golestan Province, Northeast of Iran 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14216.
Introduction
The incidence of end-stage renal disease is increasing worldwide. Earlier studies reported high prevalence rates of obesity and hypertension, two major risk factors of chronic kidney disease (CKD), in Golestan Province, Iran. We aimed to investigate prevalence of moderate to severe CKD and its risk factors in the region.
Methods
Questionnaire data and blood samples were collected from 3591 participants (≥18 years old) from the general population. Based on serum creatinine levels, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was estimated.
Results
High body mass index (BMI) was common: 35.0% of participants were overweight (BMI 25–29.9) and 24.5% were obese (BMI ≥30). Prevalence of CKD stages 3 to 5 (CKD–S3-5), i.e., GFR <60 mL/min/1.73 m2, was 4.6%. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for the risk of CKD–S3-5 associated with every year increase in age was 1.13 (1.11–1.15). Men were at lower risk of CKD–S3-5 than women (OR = 0.28; 95% CI 0.18–0.45). Obesity (OR = 1.78; 95% CI 1.04–3.05) and self-reported diabetes (OR = 1.70; 95% CI 1.00–2.86), hypertension (OR = 3.16; 95% CI 2.02–4.95), ischemic heart disease (OR = 2.73; 95% CI 1.55–4.81), and myocardial infarction (OR = 2.69; 95% CI 1.14–6.32) were associated with increased risk of CKD–S3-5 in the models adjusted for age and sex. The association persisted for self-reported hypertension even after adjustments for BMI and history of diabetes (OR = 2.85; 95% CI 1.77–4.59).
Conclusion
A considerable proportion of inhabitants in Golestan have CKD–S3-5. Screening of individuals with major risk factors of CKD, in order to early detection and treatment of impaired renal function, may be plausible. Further studies on optimal risk prediction of future end-stage renal disease and effectiveness of any screening program are warranted.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014216
PMCID: PMC2997063  PMID: 21151983
19.  Socio-economic status and oesophageal cancer: results from a population-based case–control study in a high-risk area 
Background Cancer registries in the 1970s showed that parts of Golestan Province in Iran had the highest rate of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in the world. More recent studies have shown that while rates are still high, they are approximately half of what they were before, which might be attributable to improved socio-economic status (SES) and living conditions in this area. We examined a wide range of SES indicators to investigate the association between different SES components and risk of OSCC in the region.
Methods Data were obtained from a population-based case–control study conducted between 2003 and 2007 with 300 histologically proven OSCC cases and 571 matched neighbourhood controls. We used conditional logistic regression to compare cases and controls for individual SES indicators, for a composite wealth score constructed using multiple correspondence analysis, and for factors obtained from factors analysis.
Results We found that various dimensions of SES, such as education, wealth and being married were all inversely related to OSCC. The strongest inverse association was found with education. Compared with no education, the adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for primary education and high school or beyond were 0.52 (0.27–0.98) and 0.20 (0.06–0.65), respectively.
Conclusions The strong association of SES with OSCC after adjustment for known risk factors implies the presence of yet unidentified risk factors that are correlated with our SES measures; identification of these factors could be the target of future studies. Our results also emphasize the importance of using multiple SES measures in epidemiological studies.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyp195
PMCID: PMC2720396  PMID: 19416955
Oesophageal cancer; socio-economic status; case–control; epidemiology; Iran; factor analysis; correspondence analysis
20.  High-temperature beverages and Foods and Esophageal Cancer Risk -- A Systematic Review 
Coffee, tea, and maté may cause esophageal cancer (EC) by causing thermal injury to the esophageal mucosa. If so, the risk of EC attributable to thermal injury could be large in populations in which these beverages are commonly consumed. In addition, these drinks may cause or prevent EC via their chemical constituents. Therefore, a large number of epidemiologic studies have investigated the association of an indicator of amount or temperature of use of these drinks or other hot foods and beverages with risk of EC.
We conducted a systematic review of these studies, and report the results for amount and temperature of use separately. By searching PubMed and the ISI, we found 59 eligible studies.
For coffee and tea, there was little evidence for an association between amount of use and EC risk; however, the majority of studies showed an increased risk of EC associated with higher drinking temperature which was statistically significant in most of them. For maté drinking, the number of studies was limited, but they consistently showed that EC risk increased with both amount consumed and temperature, and these two were independent risk factors. For other hot foods and drinks, over half of the studies showed statistically significant increased risks of EC associated with higher temperature of intake.
Overall, the available results strongly suggest that high-temperature beverage drinking increases the risk of EC. Future studies will require standardized strategies that allow for combining data, and results should be reported by histological subtypes of EC.
doi:10.1002/ijc.24445
PMCID: PMC2773211  PMID: 19415743
21.  Verbal Autopsy: Reliability and Validity Estimates for Causes of Death in the Golestan Cohort Study in Iran 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11183.
Background
Verbal autopsy (VA) is one method to obtain valid estimates of causes of death in the absence of valid medical records. We tested the reliability and validity of a VA questionnaire developed for a cohort study in Golestan Province in northeastern Iran.
Method
A modified version of the WHO adult verbal autopsy was used to assess the cause of death in the first 219 Golestan Cohort Study (GCS) subjects who died. The GCS cause of death was determined by two internists who independently reviewed all available medical records. Two other internists (“reviewers”) independently reviewed only the VA answers and classified the cause of death into one of nine general categories; they repeated this evaluation one month later. The reliability of the VA was measured by calculating intra-reviewer and inter-reviewer kappa statistics. The validity of the VA was measured using the GCS cause of death as the gold standard.
Results
VA showed both good validity (sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV all above 0.81) and reliability (kappa>0.75) in determining the general cause of death independent of sex and place of residence. The overall multi-rater agreement across four reviews was 0.84 (95%CI: 0.78–0.89). The results for identifying specific cancer deaths were also promising, especially for upper GI cancers (kappa = 0.95). The multi-rater agreement in cancer subgroup was 0.93 (95%CI: 0.85–0.99).
Conclusions
VA seems to have good reliability and validity for determining the cause of death in a large-scale adult follow up study in a predominantly rural area of a middle-income country.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011183
PMCID: PMC2887437  PMID: 20567597
22.  Patterns of food and nutrient consumption in northern Iran, a high-risk area for esophageal cancer 
Nutrition and cancer  2009;61(4):475-483.
Objectives
To investigate patterns of food and nutrient consumption in Golestan province, a high-incidence area for esophageal cancer (EC) in northern Iran.
Methods
Twelve 24-hour dietary recalls were administered during a one year period to 131 healthy participants in a pilot cohort study. We compare here nutrient intake in Golestan with Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) and Lowest Threshold Intakes (LTIs). We also compare the intake of 27 food groups and nutrients among several population subgroups, using mean values from the twelve recalls.
Results
Rural women had a very low level of vitamin intake, which was even lower than LTIs (P < 0.01). Daily intake of vitamins A and C was lower than LTI in 67% and 73% of rural women, respectively. Among rural men, the vitamin intakes were not significantly different from LTIs. Among urban women, the vitamin intakes were significantly lower than RDAs, but were significantly higher than LTIs. Among urban men, the intakes were not significantly different from RDAs. Compared to urban dwellers, intake of most food groups and nutrients, including vitamins, was significantly lower among rural dwellers. In terms of vitamin intake, no significant difference was observed between Turkmen and non-Turkmen ethnics.
Conclusions
The severe deficiency in vitamin intake among women and rural dwellers and marked differences in nutrient intake between rural and urban dwellers may contribute to the observed epidemiological pattern of EC in Golestan, with high incidence rates among women and people with low socioeconomic status, and the highest incidence rate among rural women.
doi:10.1080/01635580902803735
PMCID: PMC2796961  PMID: 19838919
esophageal cancer; Iran; Caspian Littoral; Golestan: Turkmen; diet record
23.  Tooth loss and lack of regular oral hygiene are associated with higher risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
We tested the association between tooth loss and oral hygiene and the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in people living in a high risk area of Iran. We used a case-control study of pathologically-confirmed ESCC cases (N=283) and controls (N=560) matched on sex, age, and neighborhood. Subjects with ESCC had significantly more decayed, missing, or filled teeth with a median (interquartile range) of 31 (23-32) compared to controls 28 (2-32) (P=0.0045). And subjects with ESCC were significantly more likely than controls to fail to practice regular oral hygiene, 78% versus 58%. In multivariate adjusted conditional logistic regression models having 32 decayed, missing, or filled teeth compared to ≤15 conferred an OR (95% CI) of 2.10 (1.19-3.70). Compared to daily tooth brushing, practicing no regular oral hygiene conferred an OR (95% CI) of 2.37 (1.42-3.97). Restricting the analysis to subjects that had never smoked tobacco did not materially alter these results. We found significant associations between two markers of poor oral hygiene, a larger number of decayed, missing, or filled teeth and lack of daily tooth brushing, and risk of ESCC in a population at high risk for ESCC where many cases occur in never smokers. Our results are consistent with several previous analyses in other high risk populations.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0558
PMCID: PMC2586052  PMID: 18990747
Tooth loss; tooth brushing; esophagus; squamous; cancer
24.  Achalasia: A review of Western and Iranian experiences 
Achalasia is a primary motor disorder of the esophagus, in which esophageal emptying is impaired. Diagnosis of achalasia is based on clinical findings. The diagnosis is confirmed by radiographic, endoscopic, and manometric evaluations. Several treatments for achalasia have been introduced. We searched the PubMed Database for original articles and meta-analyses about achalasia to summarize the current knowledge regarding this disease, with particular focus on different procedures that are used for treatment of achalasia. We also report the Iranian experience of treatment of this disease, since it could be considered as a model for medium-resource countries. Myotomy, particularly laparoscopic myotomy with fundoplication, is the most effective treatment for achalasia. Compared to other treatments, however, the initial cost of myotomy is usually higher and the recovery period is longer. When performing myotomy is not indicated or not possible, graded pneumatic dilation with slow rate of balloon inflation seems to be an effective and safe initial alternative. Injection of botulinum toxin into the lower esophageal sphincter before pneumatic dilation may increase remission rates. However, this needs to be confirmed in further studies. Due to lack of adequate information regarding the role of expandable stents in the treatment of achalasia, insertion of stents does not currently seem to be a recommended treatment. In summary, laparoscopic myotomy can be considered as the procedure of choice for treatment of achalasia. Graded pneumatic dilation is an effective alternative when the performance of myotomy is not possible for any reason.
doi:10.3748/wjg.15.5000
PMCID: PMC2768877  PMID: 19859991
Achalasia; Esophagus; Motility; Treatment
25.  Opium use and mortality in Golestan Cohort Study: prospective cohort study of 50 000 adults in Iran 
Objectives To investigate the association between opium use and subsequent risk of death.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting The Golestan Cohort Study in north-eastern Iran collected detailed validated data on opium use and other exposures at baseline. Participants were enrolled between January 2004 and June 2008 and were followed to May 2011, with a follow-up success rate of over 99%.
Participants 50 045 participants aged 40-75 at baseline.
Main outcomes Mortality, all cause and major subcategories.
Results 17% (n=8487) of the participants reported opium use, with a mean duration of 12.7 years. During the follow-up period 2145 deaths were reported. The adjusted hazard ratio for all cause mortality associated with ever use of opium was 1.86 (95% confidence interval 1.68 to 2.06). Opium consumption was significantly associated with increased risks of deaths from several causes including circulatory diseases (hazard ratio 1.81) and cancer (1.61). The strongest associations were seen with deaths from asthma, tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (11.0, 6.22, and 5.44, respectively). After exclusion of people who self prescribed opium after the onset of major chronic illnesses, the associations remained strong with a dose-response relation.
Conclusion Opium users have an increased risk of death from multiple causes compared with non-users. Increased risks were also seen in people who used low amounts of opium for a long period and those who had no major illness before use.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e2502
PMCID: PMC3328545  PMID: 22511302

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