Health

Airborne pollution associated with more severe rhinitis symptoms

The nasal symptoms of rhinitis are more severe in people exposed to higher levels of outdoor air pollution. That was the conclusion reached by the authors of a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, ...

Genetics

Scientists highlight potential of exposome research

Over the last two decades, the health sciences have been transformed by genomics, which has provided insights into genetic risk factors for human disease. While powerful, the genomics revolution has also revealed the limits ...

Cardiology

Belly fat linked with repeat heart attacks

Heart attack survivors who carry excess fat around their waist are at increased risk of another heart attack, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Health

ACA tied to narrowing of disparities in access to care

(HealthDay)—The Affordable Care Act has reduced disparities in access to health care among black, Hispanic, and white adults, according to a January data brief released by the Commonwealth Fund.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Lifetime suicide risk factors identified

A review of studies into suicide risk factors at different stages of peoples' lives, as well as of the effectiveness of assessment and treatment approaches, has found that while some factors such as genetics and family history ...

Cardiology

BP measures progress more rapidly in women than men

(HealthDay)—Blood pressure (BP) measures progress more rapidly in women than in men, starting in the third decade and continuing through the life course, according to a study published online Jan. 15 in JAMA Cardiology.

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Risk factor

A risk factor is a variable associated with an increased risk of disease or infection. Risk factors are correlational and not necessarily causal, because correlation does not imply causation. For example, being young cannot be said to cause measles, but young people are more at risk as they are less likely to have developed immunity during a previous epidemic.

Risk factors are evaluated by comparing the risk of those exposed to the potential risk factor to those not exposed. Let's say that at a wedding, 74 people ate the chicken and 22 of them were ill, while of the 35 people who had the fish or vegetarian meal only 2 were ill. Did the chicken make the people ill?

So the chicken eaters' risk = 22/74 = 0.297 And non-chicken eaters' risk = 2/35 = 0.057.

Those who ate the chicken had a risk over five times as high as those who did not, suggesting that eating chicken was the cause of the illness. Note, however, that this is not proof. Statistical methods would be used in a less clear cut case to decide what level of risk the risk factor would have to present to be able to say the risk factor is linked to the disease (for example in a study of the link between smoking and lung cancer). Even then, no amount of statistical analysis could prove that the risk factor causes the disease; this could only be proven using direct methods such as a medical explanation of the disease's roots.

The earliest use of risk factor analysis dates back to Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine (1020s), though the term "risk factor" was first coined by heart researcher Dr. Thomas R. Dawber in a landmark scientific paper in 1961, where he attributed heart disease to specific conditions (blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking).

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