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1.  Variation in PAH-related DNA adduct levels among non-smokers: the role of multiple genetic polymorphisms and nucleotide excision repair phenotype 
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) likely play a role in many cancers even in never-smokers. We tried to find a model to explain the relationship between variation in PAH-related DNA adduct levels among people with similar exposures, multiple genetic polymorphisms in genes related to metabolic and repair pathways, and nucleotide excision repair (NER) capacity. In 111 randomly-selected female never-smokers from the Golestan Cohort Study in Iran, we evaluated 21 SNPs in 14 genes related to xenobiotic metabolism and 12 SNPs in 8 DNA repair genes. NER capacity was evaluated by a modified comet assay, and aromatic DNA adduct levels were measured in blood by 32P-postlabelling. Multivariable regression models were compared by Akaike’s information criterion (AIC). Aromatic DNA adduct levels ranged between 1.7 and 18.6 per 108 nucleotides (mean: 5.8±3.1). DNA adduct level was significantly lower in homozygotes for NAT2 slow alleles and ERCC5 non risk-allele genotype, and was higher in the MPO homozygote risk-allele genotype. The sum of risk alleles in these genes significantly correlated with the log-adduct level (r=0.4, p<0.001). Compared with the environmental model, adding phase I SNPs and NER capacity provided the best fit, and could explain 17% more of the variation in adduct levels. NER capacity was affected by polymorphisms in the MTHFR and ERCC1 genes. Female non-smokers in this population had PAH-related DNA adduct levels 3-4 times higher than smokers and occupationally-exposed groups in previous studies, with large inter-individual variation which could best be explained by a combination of phase I genes and NER capacity.
doi:10.1002/ijc.27953
PMCID: PMC3597757  PMID: 23175176
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; DNA adducts; nucleotide excision repair; polymorphism
2.  Network of microRNAs-mRNAs Interactions in Pancreatic Cancer 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:534821.
Background. MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules that regulate the expression of certain genes through interaction with mRNA targets and are mainly involved in human cancer. This study was conducted to make the network of miRNAs-mRNAs interactions in pancreatic cancer as the fourth leading cause of cancer death. Methods. 56 miRNAs that were exclusively expressed and 1176 genes that were downregulated or silenced in pancreas cancer were extracted from beforehand investigations. MiRNA–mRNA interactions data analysis and related networks were explored using MAGIA tool and Cytoscape 3 software. Functional annotations of candidate genes in pancreatic cancer were identified by DAVID annotation tool. Results. This network is made of 217 nodes for mRNA, 15 nodes for miRNA, and 241 edges that show 241 regulations between 15 miRNAs and 217 target genes. The miR-24 was the most significantly powerful miRNA that regulated series of important genes. ACVR2B, GFRA1, and MTHFR were significant target genes were that downregulated. Conclusion. Although the collected previous data seems to be a treasure trove, there was no study simultaneous to analysis of miRNAs and mRNAs interaction. Network of miRNA-mRNA interactions will help to corroborate experimental remarks and could be used to refine miRNA target predictions for developing new therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1155/2014/534821
PMCID: PMC4033392  PMID: 24895587
3.  Association of tooth loss and oral hygiene with risk of gastric adenocarcinoma 
Introduction
Poor oral health and tooth loss have been proposed as possible risk factors for some chronic diseases, including gastric cancer. However only a small number of studies have tested these associations.
Method
We conducted a case-control study in Golestan Province, Iran, that enrolled 309 cases diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma (118 noncardia, 161 cardia, and 30 mixed-locations) and 613 sex, age and neighborhood matched controls. Data on oral health were obtained through physical examination and questionnaire including tooth loss, the number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth, and frequency of tooth brushing. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were obtained using conditional logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders. Standard one degree-of-freedom linear trend test and a multiple degree of freedom global test of the effect of adding oral hygiene variables to the model were also calculated.
Results
Our results showed apparent associations between tooth loss and DMFT score with risk of gastric cancer, overall and at each anatomic subsite. However, these associations were not monotonic and were strongly confounded by age. The results also showed that subjects who brushed their teeth less than daily were at significantly higher risk for gastric cardia adenocarcinoma OR (95% CI) of 5.6 (1.6–19.3).
Discussion
We found evidence for an association between oral health and gastric cancer, but the non- monotonic association, the relatively strong effect of confounder adjustment, and inconsistent results across studies must temper the strength of any conclusions.
doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0491
PMCID: PMC3644330  PMID: 23503651
Adenocarcinoma; Tooth loss; Oral health; Stomach
4.  Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and overall and Cause-specific Mortality: A Prospective Study of 50000 Individuals 
BACKGROUND
Only a few studies in Western countries have investigated the association between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and mortality at the general population level and they have shown mixed results. This study investigated the association between GERD symptoms and overall and cause-specific mortality in a large prospective population-based study in Golestan Province, Iran.
METHODS
Baseline data on frequency, onset time, and patient-perceived severity of GERD symptoms were available for 50001 participants in the Golestan Cohort Study (GCS). We identified 3107 deaths (including 1146 circulatory and 470 cancer-related) with an average follow-up of 6.4 years and calculated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) adjusted for multiple potential confounders.
RESULTS
Severe daily symptoms (defined as symptoms interfering with daily work or causing nighttime awakenings on a daily bases, reported by 4.3% of participants) were associated with cancer mortality (HR 1.48, 95% CI: 1.04-2.05). This increase was too small to noticeably affect overall mortality. Mortality was not associated with onset time or frequency of GERD and was not increased with mild to moderate symptoms.
CONCLUSION
We have observed an association with GERD and increased cancer mortality in a small group of individuals that had severe symptoms. Most patients with mild to moderate GERD can be re-assured that their symptoms are not associated with increased mortality.
PMCID: PMC4034667  PMID: 24872865
Cardiovascular disease; Esophageal cancer; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Mortality
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Detection of TP53 R249 Mutation in Iranian Patients with Pancreatic Cancer 
Journal of Oncology  2013;2013:738915.
The TP53 gene encodes tumor protein p53 which play a major role in the etiology of pancreatic cancer. The important role of codon 249 of TP53 for binding of p53 to its sequence-specific consensus site in DNA has been revealed by crystallography's studies, and mutation at this codon was detected in the plasma of some human cancers. The TP53 Mut assessor software within the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) TP53 Database was performed to evaluate every possible mutation at codon 249. DNA was extracted from the plasma of 133 pancreatic cancer patients and 85 noncancer-bearing individuals. Exon 7 in TP53 was amplified, and mutation at R249 was identified by the endonuclease cleavage of HaeIII. The group of patients showed a frequency of 11% (22 of 133 samples) R249 mutation compared to 3.5% (3 of 85 samples) in the group of control which was significant (P = 0.03). This mutation demonstrated statistically significant association with pancreatic cancer risk in unadjusted odds ratio (OR: 3.74, 95% CI: 1.1–13.2; P = 0.041); however when adjusted for confounding factors, it was marginally significant because of lower control samples. These findings demonstrate that mutation at R249 of TP53 can be considered for increasing risk of pancreatic cancer that needs more research.
doi:10.1155/2013/738915
PMCID: PMC3892507  PMID: 24489544
11.  Normal Limit for Serum Alanine Aminotransferase Level and Distribution of Metabolic Factors in Old Population of Kalaleh, Iran 
Hepatitis Monthly  2013;13(10):e10640.
Backgrounds
Normal or elevated values of serum alanine aminotransferase level (ALT) vary in different studies mostly related to characteristics of reference population including age, gender, body mass index, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and metabolic syndrome prevalence.
Objectives
To measure upper normal limit (UNL) for serum ALT in an apparently healthy Iranian old population (which we had not sufficient data before this study), and its modulating factors.
Patients and Methods
All inhabitants (> 50 years old) of Kalaleh, Golestan, Iran (N = 1986) were invited to the study. ALT measurements were performed for all subjects using the same laboratory method. Upper limit of normal (ULN) ALT was calculated based on its 95th percentile in normal weight subjects. Modulating factors of ALT were determined by multivariate analysis.
Results
A total of 1309 subjects, with the mean age of 61.5 ± 7.5 years were included. UNL of ALT was 18.8 U/L and 21.4 U/L in women and men, respectively. Based on univariate analysis, waist circumference (r = 0.124, P = 0.01), body mass index (r = 0.118, P = 0.01), triglyceride (r = 0.143, P = 0.01), and having metabolic syndrome (OR = 2.04) modulate ALT levels in men. Also triglyceride (r = 0.119, P = 0.01) modulates ALT levels in women.
Conclusions
The calculated level for UNL of ALT is considerably far lower than previous accepted value. Age, gender, ethnicity, and metabolic factors should be accounted in future studies to determine normal ALT level.
doi:10.5812/hepatmon.10640
PMCID: PMC3842514  PMID: 24348633
Alanine Aminotransferase; Age Groups; Gender
12.  Obtaining Informed Consent in an Illiterate Population 
BACKGROUND
Esophageal cancer is highly prevalent among the Turkman people in Northeastern Iran. In order to evaluate its etiology, there is an on-going prospective cohort study in this area involving approximately 50000 subjects over the age of 40 years. The majority of these subjects are illiterate, thus obtaining informed consent is very important and difficult.
METHODS
Initially, we explained the aim and study method to religious leaders and health-sanitary officials. One week prior to obtaining informed consent, potential participants were given adequate information about the research process by trained health personnel at their own home. Thus, participants had sufficient time to consider the research and consult with local health personnel, religious authorities, family, neighbors, friends and those who previously participated in the study. Potential participants could observe the research process directly and then be included in the study if they agreed.
RESULTS
A total of 50045 individuals agreed to participate in the study, of which 70% were illiterate. There were no refusals due to the medical ethical aspects of this study.
CONCLUSION
The method of awareness in this study can be a useful pattern for research on elderly and illiterate individuals who are participants in research studies in Iran and other countries.
PMCID: PMC3990137  PMID: 24829668
Medical ethic; Illiterate; Old age; Informed consent
13.  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
14.  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
15.  The Impact of Illicit Drug Use on Spontaneous Hepatitis C Clearance: Experience from a Large Cohort Population Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23830.
Background and Aims
Acute hepatitis C infection usually ends in chronic infection, while in a minority of patients it is spontaneously cleared. The current population-based study is performed on a large cohort in Golestan province of Iran to examine the demographic correlates of Spontaneous Hepatitis C Clearance.
Methods
Serum samples used in this study had been stored in biorepository of Golestan Cohort Study. These samples were evaluated for anti hepatitis C Virus by third generation Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Subjects who tested positive were then invited and tested by Recombinant Immunoblot Assay (RIBA) and Ribonucleic Acid Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR). If tested positive for RIBA, subjects were recalled and the two tests were re-done after 6 months. Those subjects who again tested positive for RIBA but negative for PCR were marked as cases of spontaneous clearance.
Results
49,338 serum samples were evaluated. The prevalence of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus (CHCV) infection based on PCR results was 0.31%. Among those who had acquired hepatitis C, the rate of SC was 38%. In multivariate analysis, illicit drug use both Injecting Use (OR = 3.271, 95% CI: 1.784–6.000, p-value<0.001) and Non-Injecting Use (OR = 1.901, 95% CI: 1.068–3.386, p-value = 0.029) were significant correlates of CHCV infection versus SC.
Conclusions
Illicit drug use whether intravenous or non-intravenous is the only significant correlate of CHCV, for which several underlying mechanisms can be postulated including repeated contacts with hepatitis C antigen.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023830
PMCID: PMC3161071  PMID: 21887326
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  Persistent alanine aminotransferase elevation among the general Iranian population: Prevalence and causes 
AIM: To determine the prevalence and causes of persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels among the general population in northern Iran.
METHODS: A total of 2292 (1376 female, aged 18-75 year), were selected by systematic clustered random sampling from the cities and villages of Gonbad and Kalaleh in Golestan Province and invited to participate in the study. A comprehensive history regarding alcohol drinking and medication was taken. Body mass index (BMI), viral markers and ALT levels were measured. If ALT level was ≥ 40 U/L, it was rechecked twice within 6 mo. Those with ≥ 2 times elevation of ALT were considered as having persistently elevated ALT level. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) was diagnosed based on evidence of fatty liver upon sonography and excluding other etiology.
RESULTS: A total of 2049 (1351 female) patients participated in the study, 162 (7.9%) had elevated ALT level at the first measurement. Persistently elevated ALT level was detected in 64 (3.1%) participants, with 51 (79.6%) with no obvious etiology, six (9.3%) with Hepatitis B, four (6.2%) with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and three (4.6%) with alcoholic hepatitis. The prevalence of NAFLD and alcoholic hepatitis was 2.04% (42 patients) and 0.1% (three), respectively. There was correlation between NAFLD and male gender, overweight, diabetes and living in an urban area [odds ratio = 3.03 (95% CI: 1.6-5.72), 4.21 (95% CI: 1.83-9.68), 2.86 (95% CI: 1.05-7.79) and 2.04 (95% CI: 1.00-4.16) respectively].
CONCLUSION: NAFLD is the most common cause of persistently elevated serum ALT level among the general population of Iran.
doi:10.3748/wjg.14.2867
PMCID: PMC2710729  PMID: 18473412
Alanine aminotransferase; Iran; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Viral hepatitis
21.  Obesity and hypertension in an Iranian cohort study; Iranian women experience higher rates of obesity and hypertension than American women 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:158.
Background
Once considered as the main public health problem in developed countries, obesity has become a major problem throughout the world and developing countries, like Iran, are joining the global obesity pandemic. We determined the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and hypertension in a large cohort of Iranians and compared age-adjusted rates with the rates in the US.
Methods
Golestan Cohort Study is a population-based study of 8,998 men and women, aged 35-81 years, from urban and rural areas. Anthropometric parameters were measured by interviewers. Prevalence rates were directly adjusted to the 2000 United States standard population.
Results
The age-adjusted prevalence rates of overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) in this Iranian population were 62.2% and 28.0%, respectively. Both overweight and obesity were more common in women than men. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in Iranian women compared to the American women (68.6% vs. 61.6%), while the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity is closer in these two populations (34.9% vs. 33.2%). Iranian men—compared to American men—had significantly lower age-adjusted prevalence of overweight (53.7% vs. 68.8%) and obesity (16.2% vs. 27.5%). Age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension was higher in Iranian women than American women (35.7% vs. 30.5%). Diabetes mellitus was reported in 6.2% of participants. Mean waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) among women was 0.96. Smoking rates in men and women were 33.2% and 2.2%, respectively.
Conclusion
The prevalence of obesity, overweight, and hypertension in Iran is as high as the US. However, Iranian women are more obese than American women and Iranian men are less obese than their American counterparts. This discrepancy might be due to the low rate of smoking among Iranian women. Iranian women have higher mean WHR than what WHO has defined in 19 other populations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-158
PMCID: PMC1533819  PMID: 16784543
22.  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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