Immunology

Adipose hormone may play role in obesity-related asthma

New research suggests a hormone released from fat tissue is critical in the development of obesity-related asthma and may be a target of future treatments for the disease. The findings will be presented Saturday, March 23 ...

Diabetes

Race, ethnicity influence fracture risk in people with diabetes

Caucasians and Hispanics with diabetes have a greater risk of fracture compared to those without diabetes, while African Americans with diabetes have little to no additional fracture risk, according to a study to be presented ...

Health

Alcohol, domestic violence link not as obvious as it might seem

Ryan Shorey studies how alcohol affects intimate partner violence. At first glance, the relationship seems obvious – of course alcohol would correlate with incidences of abuse. But beneath the surface, there are many questions ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Separation anxiety can contribute to toxic body image

Young women with separation anxiety have an elevated risk of idealizing thin body types, such as those featured in the media, according to new research co-directed by Vanderbilt consumer psychologist Steve Posavac.

Cardiology

ACC/AHA guidance for preventing heart disease, stroke released

The choices we make every day can have a lasting effect on our heart and vascular health. Adopting a heart healthy eating plan, getting more exercise, avoiding tobacco and managing known risk factors are among the key recommendations ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Periodontitis may raise the risk for developing dementia

Gum disease (gingivitis) that goes untreated can become periodontitis. When this happens, the infection that affected your gums causes loss in the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontitis is the main cause of tooth loss ...

page 1 from 23

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).

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA