After 50 years and 200 papers, what can the Midspan cohort studies tell us about our mortality?

Gruer, L., Hart, C.L. and Watt, G.C.M. (2017) After 50 years and 200 papers, what can the Midspan cohort studies tell us about our mortality? Public Health, 142, pp. 186-195. (doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2015.06.017) (PMID:26255248)

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Objective: To distil the main findings from published papers on mortality in three cohorts involving over 27,000 adults, recruited in Scotland between 1965 and 1976 and followed up ever since. Method: We read and summarized 48 peer-reviewed papers about all-cause and cause-specific mortality in these cohorts, published between 1978 and 2013. Results: Mortality rates were substantially higher among cigarette smokers in all social classes and both genders. Exposure to second-hand smoke was also damaging. Exposure to higher levels of black smoke pollution was associated with higher mortality. After smoking, diminished lung function was the risk factor most strongly related to higher mortality, even among never-smokers. On average, female mortality rates were much lower than male but the same risk factors were predictors of mortality. Mortality rates were highest among men whose paternal, own first and most recent jobs were manual. Specific causes of death were associated with different life stages. Upward and downward social mobility conferred intermediate mortality rates. Low childhood cognitive ability was strongly associated with low social class in adulthood and higher mortality before age 65 years. There was no evidence that daily stress contributed to higher mortality among people in lower social positions. Men in manual occupations with fathers in manual occupations, who smoked and drank >14 units of alcohol a week had cardiovascular disease mortality rates 4.5 times higher than non-manual men with non-manual fathers, who neither smoked nor drank >14 units. Men who were obese and drank >14 units of alcohol per day had a mortality rate due to liver disease 19 times that of normal or underweight non-drinkers. Among women who never smoked, mortality rates were highest in severely obese women in the lowest occupational classes. Conclusion: These studies highlight the cumulative effect of adverse exposures throughout life, the complex interplay between social circumstances, culture and individual capabilities, and the damaging effects of smoking, air pollution, alcohol and obesity.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hart, Dr Carole and Gruer, Dr Lawrence and Watt, Professor Graham
Authors: Gruer, L., Hart, C.L., and Watt, G.C.M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Public Health
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1476-5616
Published Online:05 August 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Public Health 142:186-195
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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