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Concept: Population


With increasing incidence and mortality, cancer is the leading cause of death in China and is a major public health problem. Because of China’s massive population (1.37 billion), previous national incidence and mortality estimates have been limited to small samples of the population using data from the 1990s or based on a specific year. With high-quality data from an additional number of population-based registries now available through the National Central Cancer Registry of China, the authors analyzed data from 72 local, population-based cancer registries (2009-2011), representing 6.5% of the population, to estimate the number of new cases and cancer deaths for 2015. Data from 22 registries were used for trend analyses (2000-2011). The results indicated that an estimated 4292,000 new cancer cases and 2814,000 cancer deaths would occur in China in 2015, with lung cancer being the most common incident cancer and the leading cause of cancer death. Stomach, esophageal, and liver cancers were also commonly diagnosed and were identified as leading causes of cancer death. Residents of rural areas had significantly higher age-standardized (Segi population) incidence and mortality rates for all cancers combined than urban residents (213.6 per 100,000 vs 191.5 per 100,000 for incidence; 149.0 per 100,000 vs 109.5 per 100,000 for mortality, respectively). For all cancers combined, the incidence rates were stable during 2000 through 2011 for males (+0.2% per year; P = .1), whereas they increased significantly (+2.2% per year; P < .05) among females. In contrast, the mortality rates since 2006 have decreased significantly for both males (-1.4% per year; P < .05) and females (-1.1% per year; P < .05). Many of the estimated cancer cases and deaths can be prevented through reducing the prevalence of risk factors, while increasing the effectiveness of clinical care delivery, particularly for those living in rural areas and in disadvantaged populations. CA Cancer J Clin 2016. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Disease, Oncology, Lung cancer, Demography, Population, American Cancer Society


Antiaging therapies show promise in model organism research. Translation to humans is needed to address the challenges of an aging global population. Interventions to slow human aging will need to be applied to still-young individuals. However, most human aging research examines older adults, many with chronic disease. As a result, little is known about aging in young humans. We studied aging in 954 young humans, the Dunedin Study birth cohort, tracking multiple biomarkers across three time points spanning their third and fourth decades of life. We developed and validated two methods by which aging can be measured in young adults, one cross-sectional and one longitudinal. Our longitudinal measure allows quantification of the pace of coordinated physiological deterioration across multiple organ systems (e.g., pulmonary, periodontal, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, and immune function). We applied these methods to assess biological aging in young humans who had not yet developed age-related diseases. Young individuals of the same chronological age varied in their “biological aging” (declining integrity of multiple organ systems). Already, before midlife, individuals who were aging more rapidly were less physically able, showed cognitive decline and brain aging, self-reported worse health, and looked older. Measured biological aging in young adults can be used to identify causes of aging and evaluate rejuvenation therapies.

Concepts: Medicine, Death, Senescence, Biology, Population, Gerontology, Ageing, Aging


Suicide is a major and continuing public health concern in the United States. During 1999-2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with the highest annual rate occurring in 2015 (1). Annual county-level mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and annual county-level population data from the U.S. Census Bureau were used to analyze suicide rate trends during 1999-2015, with special emphasis on comparing more urban and less urban areas. U.S. counties were grouped by level of urbanization using a six-level classification scheme. To evaluate rate trends, joinpoint regression methodology was applied to the time-series data for each level of urbanization. Suicide rates significantly increased over the study period for all county groupings and accelerated significantly in 2007-2008 for the medium metro, small metro, and non-metro groupings. Understanding suicide trends by urbanization level can help identify geographic areas of highest risk and focus prevention efforts. Communities can benefit from implementing policies, programs, and practices based on the best available evidence regarding suicide prevention and key risk factors. Many approaches are applicable regardless of urbanization level, whereas certain strategies might be particularly relevant in less urban areas affected by difficult economic conditions, limited access to helping services, and social isolation.

Concepts: Demography, Population, United States, Urban area, Washington, D.C., Suicide, Philadelphia, United States Census


Microscopic mites of the genus Demodex live within the hair follicles of mammals and are ubiquitous symbionts of humans, but little molecular work has been done to understand their genetic diversity or transmission. Here we sampled mite DNA from 70 human hosts of diverse geographic ancestries and analyzed 241 sequences from the mitochondrial genome of the species Demodex folliculorum. Phylogenetic analyses recovered multiple deep lineages including a globally distributed lineage common among hosts of European ancestry and three lineages that primarily include hosts of Asian, African, and Latin American ancestry. To a great extent, the ancestral geography of hosts predicted the lineages of mites found on them; 27% of the total molecular variance segregated according to the regional ancestries of hosts. We found that D. folliculorum populations are stable on an individual over the course of years and that some Asian and African American hosts maintain specific mite lineages over the course of years or generations outside their geographic region of birth or ancestry. D. folliculorum haplotypes were much more likely to be shared within families and between spouses than between unrelated individuals, indicating that transmission requires close contact. Dating analyses indicated that D. folliculorum origins may predate modern humans. Overall, D. folliculorum evolution reflects ancient human population divergences, is consistent with an out-of-Africa dispersal hypothesis, and presents an excellent model system for further understanding the history of human movement.

Concepts: Human, Mitochondrial DNA, Species, Population, Race, World population, Demodex, Demodex folliculorum


Ongoing climate change can alter conditions for plant growth, in turn affecting ecological and social systems. While there have been considerable advances in understanding the physical aspects of climate change, comprehensive analyses integrating climate, biological, and social sciences are less common. Here we use climate projections under alternative mitigation scenarios to show how changes in environmental variables that limit plant growth could impact ecosystems and people. We show that although the global mean number of days above freezing will increase by up to 7% by 2100 under “business as usual” (representative concentration pathway [RCP] 8.5), suitable growing days will actually decrease globally by up to 11% when other climatic variables that limit plant growth are considered (i.e., temperature, water availability, and solar radiation). Areas in Russia, China, and Canada are projected to gain suitable plant growing days, but the rest of the world will experience losses. Notably, tropical areas could lose up to 200 suitable plant growing days per year. These changes will impact most of the world’s terrestrial ecosystems, potentially triggering climate feedbacks. Human populations will also be affected, with up to ~2,100 million of the poorest people in the world (~30% of the world’s population) highly vulnerable to changes in the supply of plant-related goods and services. These impacts will be spatially variable, indicating regions where adaptations will be necessary. Changes in suitable plant growing days are projected to be less severe under strong and moderate mitigation scenarios (i.e., RCP 2.6 and RCP 4.5), underscoring the importance of reducing emissions to avoid such disproportionate impacts on ecosystems and people.

Concepts: Population, Ecology, Earth, Sun, Climate, Ecosystem, Climate change, World population


Systematic differences between populations in their preferences for body size may arise as a result of an adaptive ‘prepared learning’ mechanism, whereby cues to health or status in the local population are internalized and affect body preferences. Alternatively, differences between populations may reflect their ‘visual diet’ as a cognitive byproduct of mere exposure. Here we test the relative importance of these two explanations for variation in body preferences. Two studies were conducted where female observers were exposed to pictures of high or low BMI women which were either aspirational (healthy, attractive models in high status clothes) or non-aspirational (eating disordered patients in grey leotards), or to combinations thereof, in order to manipulate their body-weight preferences which were tested at baseline and at post-test. Overall, results showed good support for visual diet effects (seeing a string of small or large bodies resulted in a change from pre- to post-test whether the bodies were aspirational or not) and also some support for the associative learning explanation (exposure to aspirational images of overweight women induced a towards preferring larger bodies, even when accompanied by equal exposure to lower weight bodies in the non-aspirational category). Thus, both influences may act in parallel.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Population, Sociology, Dieting


African forest elephants- taxonomically and functionally unique-are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002-2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced.

Concepts: Africa, Demography, Population, Population density, Hunting, Elephant, African Bush Elephant, African Forest Elephant


The ratio of male to female offspring at birth may be a simple and non-invasive way to monitor the reproductive health of a population. Except in societies where selective abortion skews the sex ratio, approximately 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. Generally, the human sex ratio at birth is remarkably constant in large populations. After the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in April 1986, a long lasting significant elevation in the sex ratio has been found in Russia, i.e. more boys or fewer girls compared to expectation were born. Recently, also for Cuba an escalated sex ratio from 1987 onward has been documented and discussed in the scientific literature.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Female, Demography, Population, Chernobyl disaster, Gender, Sex ratio


Somatic growth patterns represent a major component of organismal fitness and may vary among sexes and populations due to genetic and environmental processes leading to profound differences in life-history and demography. This study considered the ontogenic, sex-specific and spatial dynamics of somatic growth patterns in ten populations of the world’s largest lizard the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). The growth of 400 individual Komodo dragons was measured in a capture-mark-recapture study at ten sites on four islands in eastern Indonesia, from 2002 to 2010. Generalized Additive Mixed Models (GAMMs) and information-theoretic methods were used to examine how growth rates varied with size, age and sex, and across and within islands in relation to site-specific prey availability, lizard population density and inbreeding coefficients. Growth trajectories differed significantly with size and between sexes, indicating different energy allocation tactics and overall costs associated with reproduction. This leads to disparities in maximum body sizes and longevity. Spatial variation in growth was strongly supported by a curvilinear density-dependent growth model with highest growth rates occurring at intermediate population densities. Sex-specific trade-offs in growth underpin key differences in Komodo dragon life-history including evidence for high costs of reproduction in females. Further, inverse density-dependent growth may have profound effects on individual and population level processes that influence the demography of this species.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Population density, Squamata, Komodo dragon, Lizard, Dragon, Monitor lizard


Rural development initiatives across the developing world are designed to improve community well-being and livelihoods. However they may also have unforeseen consequences, in some cases placing further demands on stretched public services. In this paper we use data from a longitudinal study of five Ethiopian villages to investigate the impact of a recent rural development initiative, installing village-level water taps, on rural to urban migration of young adults. Our previous research has identified that tap stands dramatically reduced child mortality, but were also associated with increased fertility. We demonstrate that the installation of taps is associated with increased rural-urban migration of young adults (15-30 years) over a 15 year period (15.5% migrate out, n = 1912 from 1280 rural households). Young adults with access to this rural development intervention had three times the relative risk of migrating to urban centres compared to those without the development. We also identify that family dynamics, specifically sibling competition for limited household resources (e.g. food, heritable land and marriage opportunities), are key to understanding the timing of out-migration. Birth of a younger sibling doubled the odds of out-migration and starting married life reduced it. Rural out-migration appears to be a response to increasing rural resource scarcity, principally competition for agricultural land. Strategies for livelihood diversification include education and off-farm casual wage-labour. However, jobs and services are limited in urban centres, few migrants send large cash remittances back to their families, and most return to their villages within one year without advanced qualifications. One benefit for returning migrants may be through enhanced social prestige and mate-acquisition on return to rural areas. These findings have wide implications for current understanding of the processes which initiate rural-to-urban migration and transitions to low fertility, as well as for the design and implementation of development intervention across the rural and urban developing world.

Concepts: Family, Demography, Population, City, Urban area, Human migration, Urbanization, Rural economics