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Journal: American journal of epidemiology


More than 1.6 million Americans have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and >10 times that number carry antibodies to it. High-risk patients presenting with progressing symptomatic disease have only hospitalization treatment with its high mortality. An outpatient treatment that prevents hospitalization is desperately needed. Two candidate medications have been widely discussed: remdesivir, and hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin. Remdesivir has shown mild effectiveness in hospitalized inpatients, but no trials have been registered in outpatients. Hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin has been widely misrepresented in both clinical reports and public media, and outpatient trials results are not expected until September. Early outpatient illness is very different than later hospitalized florid disease and the treatments differ. Evidence about use of hydroxychloroquine alone, or of hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin in inpatients, is irrelevant concerning efficacy of the pair in early high-risk outpatient disease. Five studies, including two controlled clinical trials, have demonstrated significant major outpatient treatment efficacy. Hydroxychloroquine+azithromycin has been used as standard-of-care in more than 300,000 older adults with multicomorbidities, with estimated proportion diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmias attributable to the medications 47/100,000 users, of which estimated mortality is <20%, 9/100,000 users, compared to the 10,000 Americans now dying each week. These medications need to be widely available and promoted immediately for physicians to prescribe.


Moderate-intensity exercise has attracted considerable attention because of its safety and many health benefits. Tai Chi, a form of mind-body exercise that originated in ancient China, has been gaining popularity. Practicing Tai Chi may improve overall health and well-being; however, to our knowledge, no study has evaluated its relationship with mortality. We assessed the associations of regular exercise and specifically participation in Tai Chi, walking, and jogging with total and cause-specific mortality among 61,477 Chinese men in the Shanghai Men’s Health Study (2002-2009). Information on exercise habits was obtained at baseline using a validated physical activity questionnaire. Deaths were ascertained through biennial home visits and linkage with a vital statistics registry. During a mean follow-up of 5.48 years, 2,421 deaths were identified. After adjustment for potential confounders, men who exercised regularly had a hazard ratio for total mortality of 0.80 (95% confidence interval: 0.74, 0.87) compared with men who did not exercise. The corresponding hazard ratios were 0.80 (95% confidence interval: 0.72, 0.89) for practicing Tai Chi, 0.77 (95% confidence interval: 0.69, 0.86) for walking, and 0.73 (95% confidence interval: 0.59, 0.90) for jogging. Similar inverse associations were also found for cancer and cardiovascular mortality. The present study provides the first evidence that, like walking and jogging, practicing Tai Chi is associated with reduced mortality.

Concepts: Statistics, Obesity, Cardiovascular disease, Physical exercise, Exercise, Interval finite element, Normal distribution, Physical fitness


To identify student- and school-level sociodemographic characteristics associated with overweight and obesity, the authors conducted cross-sectional analyses of data from 624,204 public school children (kindergarten through 12th grade) who took part in the 2007-2008 New York City Fitnessgram Program. The overall prevalence of obesity was 20.3%, and the prevalence of overweight was 17.6%. In multivariate models, the odds of being obese as compared with normal weight were higher for boys versus girls (odds ratio (OR) = 1.39, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.36, 1.42), for black (OR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.15) and Hispanic (OR = 1.48, 95% CI: 1.43, 1.53) children as compared with white children, for children receiving reduced-price (OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.13, 1.21) or free (OR = 1.12, 95% CI: 1.09, 1.15) school lunches as compared with those paying full price, and for US-born students (OR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.50, 1.58) as compared with foreign-born students. After adjustment for individual-level factors, obesity was associated with the percentage of students who were US-born (across interquartile range (75th percentile vs. 25th), OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.14) and the percentage of students who received free or reduced-price lunches (across interquartile range, OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.18). The authors conclude that individual sociodemographic characteristics and school-level sociodemographic composition are associated with obesity among New York City public school students.

Concepts: Cancer, Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, Interquartile range, High school, Normal distribution, New York City


Laboratory evidence suggests that certain specialty dietary supplements have antiinflammatory properties, though evidence in humans remains limited. Data on a nationally representative sample of 9,947 adults from the 1999-2004 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were used to assess the associations between specialty supplement use and inflammation, as measured by serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) concentration. Using survey-weighted multivariate linear regression, significant reductions in hs-CRP concentrations were associated with regular use of glucosamine (17%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 7, 26), chondroitin (22%, 95% CI: 8, 33), and fish oil (16%, 95% CI: 0.3, 29). No associations were observed between hs-CRP concentration and regular use of supplements containing methylsulfonylmethane, garlic, ginkgo biloba, saw palmetto, or pycnogenol. These results suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are associated with reduced inflammation in humans and provide further evidence to support an inverse association between use of fish oil supplements and inflammation. It is important to further investigate the potential antiinflammatory role of these supplements, as there is a need to identify safe and effective ways to reduce inflammation and the burden of inflammation-related diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Concepts: Inflammation, Chondroitin sulfate, Nutrition, Cardiovascular disease, Anti-inflammatory, C-reactive protein, Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo


A total of 1,215 young Danish men aged 18-28 years were recruited between 2008 and 2012 when they attended a compulsory medical examination to determine their fitness for military service. The participants delivered a semen sample, had a blood sample drawn, and underwent a physical examination. They responded to questionnaires including information on marijuana and recreational drug use during the past 3 months (no use, use once per week or less, or use more than once per week). A total of 45% had smoked marijuana within the last 3 months. Regular marijuana smoking more than once per week was associated with a 28% (95% confidence interval (CI): -48, -1) lower sperm concentration and a 29% (95% CI: -46, -1) lower total sperm count after adjustment for confounders. The combined use of marijuana more than once per week and other recreational drugs reduced the sperm concentration by 52% (95% CI: -68, -27) and total sperm count by 55% (95% CI: -71, -31). Marijuana smokers had higher levels of testosterone within the same range as cigarette smokers. Our findings are of public interest as marijuana use is common and may be contributing to recent reports of poor semen quality.

Concepts: Drug, Semen analysis, Opioid, Semen, Cannabis, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Prohibition


This study prospectively examined the associations between religious involvement in adolescence (including religious service attendance and prayer or meditation) and a wide array of psychosocial well-being, mental health, health behaviors, physical health and character strengths outcomes in young adulthood. Longitudinal data from the Growing Up Today Study (Ns ranged from 5,681 to 7,458, depending on outcome; mean baseline age was 14.74 years) with 8-14 year follow-up (1999-2010/2013/2007 questionnaire wave) were analyzed using generalized estimating equations. Bonferroni correction was used to correct for multiple testing. All models controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, maternal health and prior values of the outcome variables wherever data were available. At least weekly versus never attendance of religious services was associated with greater life satisfaction and positive affect, a number of character strengths, lower probability of marijuana use and early sexual initiation, and fewer lifetime sexual partners. Analyses on prayer or meditation yielded similar results. While decisions about religion are not shaped principally by health, for adolescents who already hold religious beliefs, encouraging service attendance and private practices may be meaningful avenues of development and support, possibly leading to better health and well-being.


Many adverse pregnancy outcomes differ by race. We examined the association between self-reported race and miscarriage (pregnancy loss at <20 weeks) in a community-based pregnancy cohort. Women from the southeastern United States (North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee) were enrolled in "Right from the Start" from 2000 to 2009. They were recruited while trying to conceive or during early pregnancy. Participants completed study ultrasound examinations, interviews, and consent forms for review of medical records. We used proportional hazard models to examine miscarriage risk among black women compared with white women, adjusted for confounders. There were 537 observed miscarriages among 4,070 women, 23% of whom self-identified as black (n = 932). The life table-adjusted cumulative risk of loss after gestational week 5 was 21.3%. With adjustment for age and alcohol use, blacks had increased risk of miscarriage compared with whites (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.57, 95% confidence interval: 1.27, 1.93). When risk of loss before gestational week 10 was dichotomized at the median gestational age, there was little difference, but black women had a greater risk thereafter compared with white women (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.93, 95% confidence interval: 1.48, 2.51). Early pregnancy ultrasound examinations did not differ by race. In summary, self-reported race is independently associated with risk of miscarriage, and the higher risk for black women is concentrated in gestational weeks 10-20.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Obstetrics, Black people, Abortion, Miscarriage, Race, White people, Gestational age


Seafood consumption during pregnancy is thought to be beneficial for child neuropsychological development, but to our knowledge no large cohort studies with high fatty fish consumption have analyzed the association by seafood subtype. We evaluated 1,892 and 1,589 mother-child pairs at the ages of 14 months and 5 years, respectively, in a population-based Spanish birth cohort established during 2004-2008. Bayley and McCarthy scales and the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test were used to assess neuropsychological development. Results from multivariate linear regression models were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and further adjusted for umbilical cord blood mercury or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations. Overall, consumption of seafood above the recommended limit of 340 g/week was associated with 10-g/week increments in neuropsychological scores. By subtype, in addition to lean fish, consumption of large fatty fish showed a positive association; offspring of persons within the highest quantile (>238 g/week) had an adjusted increase of 2.29 points in McCarthy general cognitive score (95% confidence interval: 0.42, 4.16). Similar findings were observed for the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test. Beta coefficients diminished 15%-30% after adjustment for mercury or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations. Consumption of large fatty fish during pregnancy presents moderate child neuropsychological benefits, including improvements in cognitive functioning and some protection from autism-spectrum traits.

Concepts: Cohort study, Linear regression, Longitudinal study, Nutrition, Essential fatty acid, Umbilical cord, Cord blood, Cord blood bank


Epidemiology of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak focuses on individuals' biology and behaviors, despite centrality of occupational environments in the viral spread. This demonstrates collusion between epidemiology and racial capitalism because it obscures structural influences, absolving industries of responsibility for worker safety. In an empirical example, we analyze economic implications of race-based metrics widely used in occupational epidemiology. In the U.S., White adults have better average lung function and worse hearing than Black adults. Both impaired lung function and hearing are criteria for Worker’s compensation, which is ultimately paid by industry. Compensation for respiratory injury is determined using a race-specific algorithm. For hearing, there is no race adjustment. Selective use of race-specific algorithms for workers' compensation reduces industries' liability for worker health, illustrating racial capitalism operating within public health. Widespread and unexamined belief in inherent physiological inferiority of Black Americans perpetuates systems that limit industry payouts for workplace injuries. We see a parallel in the epidemiology of COVID-19 disparities. We tell stories of industries implicated in the outbreak and review how they exemplify racial capitalism. We call on public health professionals to: critically evaluate who is served and neglected by data analysis; and center structural determinants of health in etiological evaluation.


It is common to present multiple adjusted effect estimates from a single model in a single table. For example, a table might show odds ratios for one or more exposures and also for several confounders from a single logistic regression. This can lead to mistaken interpretations of these estimates. We use causal diagrams to display the sources of the problems. Presentation of exposure and confounder effect estimates from a single model may lead to several interpretative difficulties, inviting confusion of direct-effect estimates with total-effect estimates for covariates in the model. These effect estimates may also be confounded even though the effect estimate for the main exposure is not confounded. Interpretation of these effect estimates is further complicated by heterogeneity (variation, modification) of the exposure effect measure across covariate levels. We offer suggestions to limit potential misunderstandings when multiple effect estimates are presented, including precise distinction between total and direct effect measures from a single model, and use of multiple models tailored to yield total-effect estimates for covariates.

Concepts: Logit, Odds ratio, Confounding, Real number, Covariate, Statistical terminology, Interpretation, Language interpretation