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Journal: American journal of epidemiology


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


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


Face-to-face social interactions enhance well-being. With the ubiquity of social media, important questions have arisen about the impact of online social interactions. In the present study, we assessed the associations of both online and offline social networks with several subjective measures of well-being. We used 3 waves (2013, 2014, and 2015) of data from 5,208 subjects in the nationally representative Gallup Panel Social Network Study survey, including social network measures, in combination with objective measures of Facebook use. We investigated the associations of Facebook activity and real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and body mass index. Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being. For example, a 1-standard-deviation increase in “likes clicked” (clicking “like” on someone else’s content), “links clicked” (clicking a link to another site or article), or “status updates” (updating one’s own Facebook status) was associated with a decrease of 5%-8% of a standard deviation in self-reported mental health. These associations were robust to multivariate cross-sectional analyses, as well as to 2-wave prospective analyses. The negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible tradeoff between offline and online relationships.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Sociology, Body mass index, Networks, Social information processing, Network theory, Online and offline, Facebook


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


Uber and similar rideshare services are rapidly dispersing in cities across the United States and beyond. Given the convenience and low cost, Uber has been characterized as a potential countermeasure for reducing the estimated 121 million episodes of drunk driving and the 10,000 resulting traffic fatalities that occur annually in the United States. We exploited differences in the timing of the deployment of Uber in US metropolitan counties from 2005 to 2014 to test the association between the availability of Uber’s rideshare services and total, drunk driving-related, and weekend- and holiday-specific traffic fatalities in the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the United States using negative binomial and Poisson regression models. We found that the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities, whether measured in aggregate or specific to drunk-driving fatalities or fatalities during weekends and holidays.

Concepts: Regression analysis, United States, New York City, Poisson regression, Poisson distribution, Liverpool, Metropolitan borough, Metropolitan county


Few studies have explored age and sex differences in the disease burden of influenza, although men and women probably differ in their susceptibility to influenza infections. In this study, quasi-Poisson regression models were applied to weekly age- and sex-specific hospitalization numbers of pneumonia and influenza cases in the Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China, from 2004 to 2010. Age and sex differences were assessed by age- and sex-specific rates of excess hospitalization for influenza A subtypes A(H1N1), A(H3N2), and A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B, respectively. We found that, in children younger than 18 years, boys had a higher excess hospitalization rate than girls, with the male-to-female ratio of excess rate (MFR) ranging from 1.1 to 2.4. MFRs of hospitalization associated with different types/subtypes were less than 1.0 for adults younger than 40 years except for A(H3N2) (MFR = 1.6), while all the MFRs were equal to or higher than 1.0 in adults aged 40 years or more except for A(H1N1)pdm09 in elderly persons aged 65 years or more (MFR = 0.9). No MFR was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) for hospitalizations associated with influenza type/subtype. There is some limited evidence on age and sex differences in hospitalization associated with influenza in the subtropical city of Hong Kong.

Concepts: Influenza, China, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, People's Republic of China, Chinese language, Hong Kong, Standard Mandarin, Economy of the People's Republic of China


In this study, the relation between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality was investigated within the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition. Survival analyses were performed, including 451,151 participants from 10 European countries, recruited between 1992 and 2000 and followed until 2010. Hazard ratios, rate advancement periods, and preventable proportions to respectively compare risk of death between quartiles of consumption, to estimate the period by which the risk of death was postponed among high consumers, and to estimate proportions of deaths that could be prevented if all participants would shift their consumption 1 quartile upward. Consumption of fruits and vegetables was inversely associated with all-cause mortality (for the highest quartile, hazard ratio = 0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.86, 0.94), with a rate advancement period of 1.12 years (95% CI: 0.70, 1.54), and with a preventable proportion of 2.95%. This association was driven mainly by cardiovascular disease mortality (for the highest quartile, hazard ratio = 0.85, 95% CI: 0.77, 0.93). Stronger inverse associations were observed for participants with high alcohol consumption or high body mass index and suggested in smokers. Inverse associations were stronger for raw than for cooked vegetable consumption. These results support the evidence that fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a lower risk of death.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Nutrition, Death, Body mass index, Fruit, Tomato, Vegetable


Previous studies have provided conflicting evidence on whether being a family caregiver is associated with increased or decreased risk for all-cause mortality. This study examined whether 3,503 family caregivers enrolled in the national Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study showed differences in all-cause mortality from 2003 to 2012 compared with a propensity-matched sample of noncaregivers. Caregivers were individually matched with 3,503 noncaregivers by using a propensity score matching procedure based on 15 demographic, health history, and health behavior covariates. During an average 6-year follow-up period, 264 (7.5%) of the caregivers died, which was significantly fewer than the 315 (9.0%) matched noncaregivers who died during the same period. A proportional hazards model indicated that caregivers had an 18% reduced rate of death compared with noncaregivers (hazard ratio = 0.823, 95% confidence interval: 0.699, 0.969). Subgroup analyses by race, sex, caregiving relationship, and caregiving strain failed to identify any subgroups with increased rates of death compared with matched noncaregivers. Public policy and discourse should recognize that providing care to a family member with a chronic illness or disability is not associated with increased risk of death in most cases, but may instead be associated with modest survival benefits for the caregivers.

Concepts: Caregiver, Family, Demography, Family Caregiver Alliance, Healthcare occupations