Epidemiologic studies have linked tropospheric ozone pollution and human mortality. Although research has shown that this relation is not confounded by particulate matter when measured by mass, little scientific evidence exists on whether confounding exists by chemical components of the particle mixture. Using mortality and particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) component data from 57 US communities (2000–2005), the authors investigate whether the ozone-mortality relation is confounded by 7 components of PM2.5: sulfate, nitrate, silicon, elemental carbon, organic carbon matter, sodium ion, and ammonium. Together, these components constitute most PM2.5 mass in the United States. Estimates of the effect of ozone on mortality were almost identical before and after controlling for the 7 components of PM2.5 considered (mortality increase/10-ppb ozone increase, before and after controlling: ammonium, 0.34% vs. 0.35%; elemental carbon, 0.36% vs. 0.37%; nitrate, 0.27% vs. 0.26%; organic carbon matter, 0.34% vs. 0.31%; silicon, 0.36% vs. 0.37%; sodium ion, 0.21% vs. 0.18%; and sulfate, 0.35% vs. 0.38%). Additionally, correlations were weak between ozone and each particulate component across all communities. Previous research found that the ozone-mortality relation is not confounded by particulate matter measured by mass; this national study indicates that the relation is also robust to control for specific components of PM2.5.
air pollution; confounding factors; mortality; ozone; particulate matter
The objective of this study was to assess the validity of prevalent and incident self-reported diabetes compared with multiple reference definitions and to assess the reliability (repeatability) of a self-reported diagnosis of diabetes. Data from 10,321 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study who attended visit 4 (1996–1998) were analyzed. Prevalent self-reported diabetes was compared with reference definitions defined by fasting glucose and medication use obtained at visit 4. Incident self-reported diabetes was assessed during annual follow-up telephone calls and was compared with reference definitions defined by fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and medication use obtained during an in-person visit attended by a subsample of participants (n = 1,738) in 2004–2005. The sensitivity of prevalent self-reported diabetes ranged from 58.5% to 70.8%, and specificity ranged from 95.6% to 96.8%, depending on the reference definition. Similarly, the sensitivity of incident self-reported diabetes ranged from 55.9% to 80.4%, and specificity ranged from 84.5% to 90.6%. Percent positive agreement of self-reported diabetes during 9 years of repeat assessments ranged from 92.7% to 95.4%. Both prevalent self-reported diabetes and incident self-reported diabetes were 84%–97% specific and 55%–80% sensitive as compared with reference definitions using glucose and medication criteria. Self-reported diabetes was >92% reliable over time.
diabetes; validation study
The conditions under which children are raised have a long-term impact on health throughout the life course. Because childhood conditions can have such a strong influence on adult risk factors for disease, failure to account for their influences could distort observed associations between adult risk factors and subsequent health outcomes. In other words, childhood conditions could confound the association between every X and Y when X is measured in adulthood. Comparisons of health outcomes between exposed and unexposed siblings have the potential to eliminate confounding effects due to vulnerability factors shared between siblings (i.e., 50% of their genes and aspects of the childhood environment that affect siblings equally). In a large, population-based study of siblings in Denmark, Søndergaard et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2012;176(8):675–683) found that individuals with higher educational qualifications lived longer than did their siblings with lower educational qualifications. Their results provide evidence for the returns to health resulting from investment in expanded educational opportunities. However, even sibling designs are not conclusive regarding causality; they remain subject to the unmeasured confounding influences of factors that vary within families. Nonetheless, sibling-based approaches should be used more often in studies of adult risk factors to address the long-term influences of the childhood environment on health.
causal inference; education; health; mortality; siblings; social epidemiology
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at excess risk of cardiovascular events (CVEs). There is uncertainty regarding the relative importance of SLE disease activity, medications, or traditional risk factors in this increased risk. To gain insight into this, the authors analyzed data from a cohort of 1,874 patients with SLE who were seen quarterly at a single clinical center (April 1987–June 2010) using pooled logistic regression analysis. In 9,485 person-years of follow-up, the authors observed 134 CVEs (rate = 14.1/1,000 person-years). This was 2.66 times what would be expected in the general population based on Framingham risk scores (95% confidence interval: 2.16, 3.16). After adjustment for age, CVE rates were not associated with duration of SLE. However, they were associated with average past levels of SLE disease activity and recent levels of circulating anti-double-stranded DNA. Past use of corticosteroids (in the absence of current use) was not associated with CVE rates. However, persons currently using 20 mg/day or more of corticosteroids had a substantial increase in risk even after adjustment for disease activity. Thus, consistent with findings in several recent publications among cohorts with other diseases, current use of corticosteroids was associated with an increased risk of CVEs. These results suggest a short-term impact of corticosteroids on CVE risk.
angina pectoris; coronary artery bypass surgery; intermittent claudication; lupus erythematosus, systemic; myocardial infarction, prednisone; risk factors; stroke
Few recent estimates of childhood asthma incidence exist in the literature, although the importance of incidence surveillance for understanding asthma risk factors has been recognized. Asthma prevalence, morbidity, and mortality reports have repeatedly shown that low-income children are disproportionately impacted by the disease. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the utility of Medicaid claims data for providing statewide estimates of asthma incidence. Medicaid analytic extract (MAX) data for Texas children aged 0–17 years enrolled in Medicaid between 2004 and 2007 were used to estimate incidence overall and by age group, gender, race, and county of residence. A ≥13-month period of continuous enrollment was required in order to distinguish incident from prevalent cases identified in the claims data. The age-adjusted incidence of asthma was 4.26/100 person-years during 2005–2007, higher than reported in other populations. Incidence rates decreased with age, were higher for males than females, differed by race, and tended to be higher in rural than urban areas. This study demonstrates the utility of Medicaid analytic extract data for estimating asthma incidence and describes the methodology required for a population with unstable enrollment.
asthma; child; incidence; Medicaid
In recent decades, epidemiology, public health, and medical sciences have been increasingly compartmentalized into narrower disciplines. The authors recognize the value of integration of divergent scientific fields in order to create new methods, concepts, paradigms, and knowledge. Herein they describe the recent emergence of molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE), which represents an integration of population and molecular biologic science to gain insights into the etiologies, pathogenesis, evolution, and outcomes of complex multifactorial diseases. Most human diseases, including common cancers (such as breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers, leukemia, and lymphoma) and other chronic diseases (such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, psychiatric diseases, and some infectious diseases), are caused by alterations in the genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, microbiome, and interactome of all of the above components. In this era of personalized medicine and personalized prevention, we need integrated science (such as MPE) which can decipher diseases at the molecular, genetic, cellular, and population levels simultaneously. The authors believe that convergence and integration of multiple disciplines should be commonplace in research and education. We need to be open-minded and flexible in designing integrated education curricula and training programs for future students, clinicians, practitioners, and investigators.
education, public health professional; health care reform; individualized medicine; interdisciplinary communication; molecular epidemiology; pathology
The authors examined the association between life events and antihypertensive medication adherence in older adults and the moderating role of coping. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted by using data (n = 1,817) from the Cohort Study of Medication Adherence among Older Adults (recruitment conducted from August 2006 through September 2007). Life events occurring in the 12 months preceding the study interview were assessed via the Holmes Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), and coping levels were assessed via an adapted version of the John Henry Active Coping Scale. Low adherence to antihypertensive medication was defined as scores less than 6 on the 8-item Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (known as “MMAS-8”). Of study participants, 13.2% had low adherence, and 27.2% and 5.0% had medium (150–299) and high (≥300) SRRS scores, respectively. After multivariable adjustment, the odds ratios for low adherence associated with medium and high, versus low, SRRS were 1.50 (95% confidence interval: 1.11, 2.02) and 2.11 (95% confidence interval: 1.24, 3.58), respectively. When multivariable models were stratified by coping level, the association between life events and adherence was evident only among participants with low coping levels.
coping; hypertension; medication adherence; older adults; stress
Although sickle cell trait protects against severe disease due to Plasmodium falciparum, it has not been clear whether sickle trait also protects against asymptomatic infection (parasitemia). To address this question, the authors identified 171 persistently smear-negative children and 450 asymptomatic persistently smear-positive children in Bancoumana, Mali (June 1996 to June 1998). They then followed both groups for 2 years using a cohort-based strategy. Among the 171 children with persistently negative smears, the median time for conversion to smear-positive was longer for children with sickle trait than for children without (274 vs. 108 days, P < 0.001; Cox hazard ratio = 0.56, 95% confidence interval: 0.33, 0.96; P = 0.036). Similar differences were found in the median times to reinfection after spontaneous clearance without treatment (365 days vs. 184 days; P = 0.01). Alternatively, among the 450 asymptomatic children with persistently positive smears, the median time for conversion to smear-negative (spontaneous clearance) was shorter for children with sickle trait than for children without (190 vs. 365 days; P = 0.02). These protective effects of sickle trait against asymptomatic P. falciparum infection under conditions of natural transmission were demonstrable using a cohort-based approach but not when the same data were examined using a cross-sectional approach.
asymptomatic infection; cohort- and cross sectional-based studies and analyses; Plasmodium falciparum; sickle cell trait
The relation between parental history of hypertension and blood pressure response to potassium intake is unknown. A 7-day high-sodium followed by a 7-day high-sodium plus potassium dietary-feeding study was conducted from 2003 to 2005 among 1,871 Chinese participants. Those with a maternal history of hypertension had larger systolic blood pressure responses to potassium compared with those without: −4.31 (95% confidence interval (CI): −4.99, −3.62) mm Hg versus −3.35 (95% CI: −4.00, −2.70) mm Hg, respectively (Pdifference = 0.002). A consistent trend was observed for diastolic blood pressure responses: −1.80 (95% CI: −2.41, −1.20) mm Hg versus −1.35 (95% CI: −1.95, −0.74) mm Hg, respectively (P = 0.07). Stronger associations between early onset maternal hypertension and blood pressure responses were noted, with systolic blood pressure decreases of −4.80 (95% CI: −5.65, −3.95) mm Hg versus −3.55 (95% CI: −4.17, −2.93) mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure decreases of −2.25 (95% CI: −3.01, −1.50) mm Hg versus −1.42 (95% CI: −1.99, −0.85) mm Hg among those with early onset maternal hypertension versus those without, respectively (P = 0.001 and 0.009, respectively). Odds ratios for high potassium sensitivity were 1.36 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.92) and 1.60 (95% CI: 1.08, 2.36) for those with maternal hypertension and early onset maternal hypertension, respectively (P = 0.08 and 0.02, respectively). Potassium supplementation could help to reduce blood pressure among those with a maternal history of hypertension.
blood pressure; dietary potassium; family history; hypertension
Although pregnant adolescents are at high risk of poor birth outcomes, the majority of adolescents go on to have full-term, healthy babies. Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7–12 in the United States who were surveyed from 1994–1995 through 2008, were used to examine the epidemiology of preterm birth and low birth weight within this population. Outcomes of pregnancies were reported by participants in the fourth wave of data collection (when participants were 24–32 years of age); data were compared between female participants who reported a first singleton livebirth at less than 20 years of age (n = 1,101) and those who were 20 years of age or older (n = 2,846). Multivariable modeling was used to model outcomes; predictors included demographic characteristics and maternal health and behavior. Among black adolescents, low parental educational levels and older age at pregnancy were associated with higher birth weight, whereas low parental educational levels and being on birth control when one got pregnant were associated with higher gestational age. In nonblack adolescents, lower body mass index was associated with lower birth weight, whereas being unmarried was associated with lower gestational age. Predictors of birth outcomes may differ by age group and social context.
adolescent; continental population groups; infant; low birth weight; premature birth
The authors examined the impact of cumulative neighborhood risk of psychosocial stress on allostatic load (AL) among adolescents as a mechanism through which life stress, including neighborhood conditions, may affect health and health inequities. They conducted multilevel analyses, weighted for sampling and propensity score-matched, among adolescents aged 12–20 years in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999–2006). Individuals (first level, n = 11,886) were nested within families/households (second level, n = 6,696) and then census tracts (third level, n = 2,191) for examination of the contextual effect of cumulative neighborhood risk environment on AL. Approximately 35% of adolescents had 2 or more biomarkers of AL. A significant amount of variance in AL was explained at the neighborhood level. The likelihood of having a high AL was approximately 10% higher for adolescents living in medium-cumulative-risk neighborhoods (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.09, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08, 1.09), 28% higher for those living in high-risk neighborhoods (adjusted OR = 1.28, 95% CI: 1.27, 1.30), and 69% higher for those living in very-high-risk neighborhoods (adjusted OR = 1.69, 95% CI: 1.68, 1.70) as compared with adolescents living in low-risk areas. Effect modification was observed by both individual- and neighborhood-level sociodemographic factors. These findings offer support for the hypothesis that neighborhood risks may culminate in a range of biologically mediated negative health outcomes detectable in adolescents.
adolescent; allostasis; risk; risk factors; stress, physiological; stress, psychological
The current study comprehensively examined the association between common genetic variants of the kallikrein-kinin system (KKS) and blood pressure salt sensitivity. A 7-day low-sodium followed by a 7-day high-sodium dietary intervention was conducted among 1,906 Han Chinese participants recruited from 2003 to 2005. Blood pressure was measured by using a random-zero sphygmomanometer through the study. A total of 205 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) covering 11 genes of the KKS were selected for the analyses. Genetic variants of the bradykinin receptor B2 gene (BDKRB2) and the endothelin converting enzyme 1 gene (ECE1) showed significant associations with the salt-sensitivity phenotypes even after adjustment for multiple testing. Compared with the major G allele, the BDKRB2 rs11847625 minor C allele was significantly associated with increased systolic blood pressure responses to low-sodium intervention (P = 0.0001). Furthermore, a haplotype containing allele C was associated with an increased systolic blood pressure response to high-sodium intervention (P = 0.0009). Seven highly correlated ECE1 SNPs were shown to increase the diastolic blood pressure response to low-sodium intervention (P values ranged from 0.0003 to 0.002), with 2 haplotypes containing these 7 SNPs also associated with this same phenotype (P values ranged from 0.0004 to 0.002). In summary, genetic variants of the genes involved in the regulation of KKS may contribute to the salt sensitivity of blood pressure.
blood pressure; genetics; kallikreins; kinins; polymorphism; sodium, dietary
Not all obese adults have cardiometabolic abnormalities. It is unknown whether this is true in children and, if true, whether children who have metabolically healthy overweight/obesity (MHO) will also have favorable cardiometabolic profiles in adulthood. These aspects were examined in 1,098 individuals who participated as both children (aged 5–17 years) and adults (aged 24–43 years) in the Bogalusa Heart Study between 1997 and 2002 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. MHO was defined as being in the top body mass index quartile, while low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, mean arterial pressure, and glucose were in the bottom 3 quartiles, and high density lipoprotein cholesterol was in the top 3 quartiles. Forty-six children (4.2%) had MHO, and they were more likely to retain MHO status in adulthood compared with children in other categories (P < 0.0001). Despite markedly increased obesity in childhood and in adulthood, these same MHO children and adults showed a cardiometabolic profile generally comparable to that of nonoverweight/obese children (P > 0.05 in most cases). Moreover, there was no difference in carotid intima-media thickness in adulthood between MHO children and nonoverweight/obese children. Further, carotid intima-media thickness in adulthood was lower in MHO children than in metabolically abnormal, overweight/obese children (P = 0.003). In conclusion, the MHO phenotype starts in childhood and continues into adulthood.
carotid intima-media thickness; longitudinal studies; metabolism; obesity; risk factors
The effects of low-carbohydrate diets (≤45% of energy from carbohydrates) versus low-fat diets (≤30% of energy from fat) on metabolic risk factors were compared in a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Twenty-three trials from multiple countries with a total of 2,788 participants met the predetermined eligibility criteria (from January 1, 1966 to June 20, 2011) and were included in the analyses. Data abstraction was conducted in duplicate by independent investigators. Both low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets lowered weight and improved metabolic risk factors. Compared with participants on low-fat diets, persons on low-carbohydrate diets experienced a slightly but statistically significantly lower reduction in total cholesterol (2.7 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: 0.8, 4.6), and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.7 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 6.4), but a greater increase in high density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.3 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: 1.9, 4.7) and a greater decrease in triglycerides (−14.0 mg/dL; 95% confidence interval: −19.4, −8.7). Reductions in body weight, waist circumference and other metabolic risk factors were not significantly different between the 2 diets. These findings suggest that low-carbohydrate diets are at least as effective as low-fat diets at reducing weight and improving metabolic risk factors. Low-carbohydrate diets could be recommended to obese persons with abnormal metabolic risk factors for the purpose of weight loss. Studies demonstrating long-term effects of low-carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular events were warranted.
carbohydrate-restricted diet; fat-restricted diet; meta-analysis; metabolic syndrome; obesity
The authors conducted a genome-wide linkage scan and positional association analysis to identify the genetic determinants of salt sensitivity of blood pressure (BP) in a large family-based, dietary-feeding study. The dietary intervention was conducted among 1,906 participants in rural China (2003–2005). A 7-day low-sodium intervention was followed by a 7-day high-sodium intervention. Salt sensitivity was defined as BP responses to low- and high-sodium interventions. Signals of the logarithm of the odds to the base 10 (LOD ≥ 3) were detected at 33–42 centimorgans of chromosome 2 (2p24.3-2p24.1), with a maximum LOD score of 3.33 for diastolic blood pressure responses to high-sodium intervention. LOD scores were 2.35–2.91 for mean arterial pressure (MAP) and 0.80–1.49 for systolic blood pressure responses in this region, respectively. Correcting for multiple tests, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs11674786 (2.7 kilobases upstream of the family with sequence similarity 84, member A, gene (FAM84A)) in the linkage region was significantly associated with diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.0007) and MAP responses (P = 0.0007), and SNP rs16983422 (2.8 kilobases upstream of the visinin-like 1 gene (VSNL1)) was marginally associated with diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.005) and MAP responses (P = 0.005). An additive interaction between SNPs rs11674786 and rs16983422 was observed, with P = 7.00 × 10−5 and P = 7.23 × 10−5 for diastolic blood pressure and MAP responses, respectively. The authors concluded that genetic region 2p24.3-2p24.1 might harbor functional variants for the salt sensitivity of BP.
allelic association; blood pressure; genetic linkage; salt sensitivity
Salt sensitivity of blood pressure (BP) is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. A dietary feeding study was conducted from October 2003 to July 2005 that included a 7-day low-sodium intervention (51.3 mmol sodium/day) followed by a 7-day high-sodium intervention (307.8 mmol sodium/day) among 1,906 individuals who were 16 years of age or older and living in rural northern China. Salt sensitivity of BP was defined as mean BP change from the low-sodium intervention to the high-sodium intervention. Usual physical activity during the past 12 months was assessed at baseline using a standard questionnaire. The multivariable-adjusted means of systolic BP responses to high-sodium intervention were 5.21 mm Hg (95% confidence interval (CI): 4.55, 5.88), 4.97 mm Hg (95% CI: 4.35, 5.59), 5.02 mm Hg (95% CI: 4.38, 5.67), and 3.96 mm Hg (95% CI: 3.29, 4.63) among participants from the lowest to the highest quartiles of physical activity, respectively (P = 0.003 for linear trend). The multivariable-adjusted odds ratio of high salt sensitivity of systolic BP was 0.66 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.88) for persons in the highest quartile of physical activity compared with those in the lowest quartile. Physical activity is significantly, independently, and inversely related to salt sensitivity of BP and may be particularly effective in lowering BP among salt-sensitive individuals.
blood pressure; dietary sodium; physical activity; salt sensitivity
The association between birth weight and long-term within-individual variability of blood pressure (BP) was examined in a longitudinal cohort of 1,454 adults (939 whites and 515 blacks; adulthood age = 19–50 years) enrolled in the Bogalusa Heart Study in Bogalusa, Louisiana, in 1973–2010. BP variability was depicted as standard deviation, coefficient of variation, and deviation from age-predicted values using 6–15 serial BP measurements from childhood to adulthood over an average of 25.7 years. Birth weight was significantly and negatively associated with adulthood BP levels, long-term BP levels, and rate of change. Importantly, low birth weight was significantly associated with increased BP variability in terms of standard deviation, coefficient of variation, and deviation. As evaluated using the regression coefficients, a 1-kg lower birth weight was associated with increases in systolic BP variability measures (−0.38 mm Hg, P = 0.04 for standard deviation; −0.004 mm Hg, P = 0.01 for coefficient of variation; and −0.16 mm Hg, P = 0.04 for deviation) after adjustment for race, age, sex, mean BP levels, and gestational age; similar trends in the associations were noted for diastolic BP variability measures. In conclusion, these findings suggest that birth weight affects not only BP levels but also the magnitude of within-individual BP fluctuations over time through fetal programming in BP regulation mechanisms.
birth weight; black-white; blood pressure variability; childhood
An elevated blood pressure (BP) response to the cold pressor test (CPT) is associated with increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. However, it is still unclear whether BP response to the CPT is a stable and reproducible trait over time. Using the same study protocol, the authors repeated the CPT 4.5 years after initial administration among 568 Han Chinese in rural northern China (2003–2005 and 2008–2009). BP was measured using a standard mercury sphygmomanometer prior to and 0, 1, 2, and 4 minutes after the participants immersed their hand in ice water (3°C–5°C) for 1 minute. Absolute BP levels and BP responses during the CPT in the initial and repeated administrations were highly correlated. For example, the correlation coefficients were 0.67, 0.73, 0.71, and 0.72 for absolute systolic BP levels at 0, 1, 2, and 4 minutes after ice-water immersion (all P 's < 0.0001). The correlation coefficients for systolic BP response were 0.41 at 0 minutes, 0.37 at 1 minute, 0.42 for maximum response, and 0.39 for the area under the curve during CPT (all P 's < 0.0001). These data indicate that BP response to the CPT is a long-term reproducible and stable characteristic in the general population.
blood pressure; cardiovascular diseases; hypertension; reproducibility of results; stress, physiological
Influenza epidemics exhibit a strongly seasonal pattern, with winter peaks that
occur with similar timing across temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere.
This synchrony could be influenced by population movements, environmental
factors, host immunity, and viral characteristics. The historical isolation of
Iceland and subsequent increase in international contacts make it an ideal
setting to study epidemic timing. The authors evaluated changes in the timing
and regional synchrony of influenza epidemics using mortality and morbidity data
from Iceland, North America, and Europe during the period from 1915 to 2007.
Cross-correlations and wavelet analyses highlighted 2 major changes in influenza
epidemic patterns in Iceland: first was a shift from nonseasonal epidemics prior
to the 1930s to a regular winter-seasonal pattern, and second was a change in
the early 1990s when a 1-month lag between Iceland and the United States and
Europe was no longer detectable with monthly data. There was a moderate
association between increased synchrony and the number of foreign visitors to
Iceland, providing a plausible explanation for the second shift in epidemic
timing. This suggests that transportation might have a minor effect on epidemic
timing, but efforts to restrict air travel during influenza epidemics would
likely have a limited impact, even for island populations.
airline; Iceland; influenza; synchrony; transportation; wavelets
Prospective epidemiologic studies generally rely on 1 baseline biologic sample from participants for measurement of prediagnostic biomarkers, assuming that 1 measurement adequately represents the participant's “typical” level. The body of work assessing the reproducibility of circulating serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels over time focuses almost exclusively on populations of European descent, and data for vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP) are virtually nonexistent. Thus, the authors measured levels of serum 25(OH)D and VDBP twice in samples collected between 2005 and 2008 from 225 participants (155 black, 70 white) in the Southern Community Cohort Study. Reproducibility for 25(OH)D was uniformly high, with adjusted intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) of 0.84 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.79, 0.88) for blacks and 0.92 (95% CI: 0.87, 0.95) for whites, and there was substantial agreement for assignment of 25(OH)D quartile (κ = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.78, 0.87) and vitamin D adequacy status (κ = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.69, 0.83). VDBP levels were highly stable over time, with adjusted ICCs of 0.97 (95% CI: 0.96, 0.98) for blacks and 0.96 (95% CI: 0.93, 0.97) for whites. These findings suggest that single, baseline 25(OH)D and VDBP serum measurements provide reasonably representative measures of these compounds for both white and black adults, demonstrating their utility as epidemiologic biomarkers in prospective studies.
African Americans; biological markers; prospective studies; reproducibility of results; vitamin D; vitamin D-binding protein
The authors assessed the relation of hormonal and pregnancy-related factors to the incidence of sarcoidosis in the Black Women's Health Study. On biennial questionnaires, participants (US black women aged 21–69 years at baseline) reported data on diagnoses of sarcoidosis, reproductive history, and medication use. Cox regression models, adjusted for age, education, geographic region, smoking, and body mass index, were used to estimate incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals. During 694,818 person-years of follow-up from 1995 through 2009, 452 incident cases of sarcoidosis were identified. The incidence of sarcoidosis decreased as age at menopause increased (P-trend = 0.03). Both later age at first full-term birth and having a more recent birth were associated with a reduced incidence of sarcoidosis. In models that included both factors, the incidence rate ratios were 0.60 (95% confidence interval: 0.37, 0.97) for age at first birth ≥30 years versus <20 years (P-trend = 0.05) and 0.73 (95% confidence interval: 0.43, 1.24) for <5 years since last birth versus ≥15 years (P-trend = 0.15). No significant associations were observed with age at menarche, parity, lactation, oral contraceptive use, or female hormone use. These results suggest that later full-term pregnancy and longer exposure to endogenous female hormones may be related to a reduced risk of sarcoidosis.
African Americans; hormones; prospective studies; reproduction; risk factors; sarcoidosis; women; women's health
To clarify the role of previous lung diseases (chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis) in the development of lung cancer, the authors conducted a pooled analysis of studies in the International Lung Cancer Consortium. Seventeen studies including 24,607 cases and 81,829 controls (noncases), mainly conducted in Europe and North America, were included (1984–2011). Using self-reported data on previous diagnoses of lung diseases, the authors derived study-specific effect estimates by means of logistic regression models or Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, sex, and cumulative tobacco smoking. Estimates were pooled using random-effects models. Analyses stratified by smoking status and histology were also conducted. A history of emphysema conferred a 2.44-fold increased risk of lung cancer (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.64, 3.62 (16 studies)). A history of chronic bronchitis conferred a relative risk of 1.47 (95% CI: 1.29, 1.68 (13 studies)). Tuberculosis (relative risk = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.17, 1.87 (16 studies)) and pneumonia (relative risk = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.01 (12 studies)) were also associated with lung cancer risk. Among never smokers, elevated risks were observed for emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. These results suggest that previous lung diseases influence lung cancer risk independently of tobacco use and that these diseases are important for assessing individual risk.
bronchitis; chronic; emphysema; lung diseases; lung neoplasms; meta-analysis; pneumonia; pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; tuberculosis
In this commentary, structural equation models (SEMs) are discussed as a tool for epidemiologic analysis. Such models are related to and compared with other analytic approaches often used in epidemiology, including regression analysis, causal diagrams, causal mediation analysis, and marginal structural models. Several of these other approaches in fact developed out of the SEM literature. However, SEMs themselves tend to make much stronger assumptions than these other techniques. SEMs estimate more types of effects than do these other techniques, but this comes at the price of additional assumptions. Many of these assumptions have often been ignored and not carefully evaluated when SEMs have been used in practice. In light of the strong assumptions employed by SEMs, the author argues that they should be used principally for the purposes of exploratory analysis and hypothesis generation when a broad range of effects are potentially of interest.
causal inference; causality; causal modeling; confounding factors (epidemiology); epidemiologic methods; regression analysis; structural equation model
Restrictions on smoking in public places have become increasingly widespread in the United States, particularly since the year 2005. National-scale studies in Europe and local-scale studies in the United States have found decreases in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) following smoking bans. The authors analyzed AMI admission rates for the years 1999–2008 in 387 US counties that enacted comprehensive smoking bans across 9 US states, using a study population of approximately 6 million Medicare enrollees aged 65 years or older. Effects of smoking bans on AMI admissions were estimated by using Poisson regression with linear and nonlinear adjustment for secular trend and random effects at the county level. Under the assumption of linearity in the secular trend of declining AMI, smoking bans were associated with a statistically significant ban-associated decrease in admissions for AMI in the 12 months following the ban. However, the estimated effect was attenuated to nearly zero when the assumption of linearity in the underlying trend was relaxed. This analysis demonstrates that estimation of potential health benefits associated with comprehensive smoking bans is challenged by the need to adjust for nonlinearity in secular trend.
environmental tobacco smoke; mixed-effects models; secondhand smoke; smoking bans