(1/420) Soluble interleukin 2 receptor levels and cervical neoplasia: results from a population-based case-control study in Costa Rica.

Progression from infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) to cervical cancer in some women is thought to involve a permissive host environment, one in which immune response is mobilized in an inappropriate manner. In a previous study (A. Hildesheim et al., Cancer Epidemiol. Biomark. Prev., 6: 807-813, 1997), increasing levels of soluble interleukin 2 receptor (sIL-2R), a known proxy for general immune activation, was found to be positively associated with increasing levels of cervical neoplasia. We attempted to confirm this finding by conducting a nested case-control study of 478 women within a 10,000-woman population-based cohort in Costa Rica. We selected for the study all of the women diagnosed (at enrollment into the cohort) with: (a) low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL, n = 191); (b) high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL, n = 130); or (c) cancer (n = 37). Controls were 120 cytologically normal, HPV-negative women selected from a random sample of the entire cohort. A questionnaire was administered to participants to elicit information on cervical cancer risk factors. All of the women received a pelvic examination during which cervical cells were collected and used for HPV DNA testing by PCR. Blood samples were also collected. Plasma obtained from the blood samples was tested for sIL-2R levels by ELISA. Results indicated that sIL-2R levels increased with age. Among controls, we observed that 44.3% of women over the age of 50 had high levels of sIL-2R (defined as >735 units/ml) compared with 15.8% of women <30 years of age (P = 0.008). When women with cervical disease (LSIL+) were compared with controls, women in the upper quartile of the sIL-2R distribution had an age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 2.1 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1-4.1]. Comparing each advancing state of neoplasia with its precursor, we found that women with LSIL had higher sIL-2R levels than controls (OR for upper quartile of sIL-2R, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.1-5.2; comparing LSIL cases with controls); women diagnosed with HSIL were similar to the LSIL group (OR for upper quartile of sIL-2R, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.5-2.4; comparing HSIL cases with LSIL cases); and those with cancer had higher sIL-2R levels than subjects with an HSIL diagnosis (OR for upper quartile of sIL-2R = 1.8; 95% CI, 0.5-7.1; comparing cancer cases with HSIL cases). These data suggest that among our study subjects, sIL-2R levels most likely rise as a response to the events of infection and cancerous invasion, but that sIL-2R levels are unlikely to be predictive of disease progression among women with LSIL.  (+info)

(2/420) The comparison of mixed distribution analysis with a three-criteria model as a method for estimating the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia in Costa Rican children aged 12-23 months.

BACKGROUND: A maximum likelihood method of mixed distribution analysis (MDA) is presented as a method to estimate the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) in Costa Rican infants 12-23 months old. MDA characterizes the parameters of the admixed distributions of iron deficient anaemics and non-iron-deficient-anaemics (NA) from the frequency distribution of haemoglobin concentration of the total sample population. METHODS: Data collected by Lozoff et al. (1986) from 345 Costa Rican infants 12-23 months old were used to estimate the parameters of the IDA and NA haemoglobin distributions determined by MDA and the widely used three-criteria model of iron deficiency. The estimates of the prevalence of IDA by each of the methods were compared. The sensitivity and specificity of MDA compared to diagnosis by the three-criteria method were assessed. Simulations were carried out to assess the comparability of MDA and the three-criteria method in low and high prevalence scenarios. RESULTS: The mean and standard deviation (SD) of the NA haemoglobin distribution determined by both methods was 12.1 +/- 1.0 g/dL. The IDA haemoglobin distribution determined by MDA had a mean and SD of 10.2 +/- 1.3 g/dL while the IDA distribution by the three-criteria method had a mean and SD of 10.4 +/- 1.3 g/dL. The prevalences of IDA as estimated by MDA and the three-criteria method were 24% and 29%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of MDA were 95% and 97%, respectively. The performance of MDA was similar to the three-criteria method at a simulated high prevalence of IDA and less similar at a low prevalence of IDA. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to the reference three-criteria method MDA provides a more accurate estimate of the true prevalence of IDA than the haemoglobin cutoff method in a population of children aged 12-23 months with a moderate to high prevalence of IDA. MDA is a less costly method for estimating the severity of IDA in populations with moderate to high prevalences of IDA, and for assisting in the design, monitoring and evaluation of iron intervention programmes.  (+info)

(3/420) Smoking: attitudes of Costa Rican physicians and opportunities for intervention.

The aim of this study was to obtain information, using a written questionnaire, on the knowledge, smoking behaviour, and attitudes of Costa Rican physicians about smoking as a health issue. A random sample of 650 physicians was chosen from a list of active physicians; 287 of them were covered by survey between August 1993 and October 1994, and 217 (76%) responded with data for the study. While 40% of the physicians who participated were ex-smokers, 19% were current smokers; 67% of these two groups combined reported smoking in the workplace. Only 49% believed that physicians could be a nonsmoking role model; the majority (87%) had asked patients about their smoking status. The only cessation technique consistently used (90%) was counselling about the dangers of smoking. Measures such as setting a date to quit smoking and nicotine replacement were rarely recommended (< or = 2%). Nearly all the physicians (99%) considered smoking to be a major health issue. These results showed a high prevalence of smoking among Costa Rican physicians, with little recognition of the need for them to set an example as a role model. While they were knowledgeable about the health risks of smoking, they did not recommend any of the proven techniques to help their patients to quit smoking. A clear consensus for more strict tobacco regulation exists, but to date little has been done to act on this.  (+info)

(4/420) Cytogenetic effects from exposure to mixed pesticides and the influence from genetic susceptibility.

Exposure to pesticides remains a major environmental health problem. Health risk from such exposure needs to be more precisely understood. We conducted three different cytogenetic assays to elucidate the biological effects of exposure to mixed pesticides in 20 Costa Rica farmers (all nonsmokers) compared with 20 matched controls. The farmers were also exposed to dibromochloropropane during the early employment years, and most of them experienced sterility/fertility problems. Our data show that the farmers had consistently higher frequencies of chromosome aberrations, as determined by the standard chromosome aberration assay, and significantly abnormal DNA repair responses (p < 0.05), as determined by the challenge assay, but no statistically significant differences in the tandem-probe fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assay (p > 0.05). Genotype analysis indicates that farmers with certain "unfavorable" versions of polymorphic metabolizing genes (cytochrome P4502E1, the glutathione S-transferases mu and theta, and the paraoxonase genes) had significantly more biological effects, as determined by all three cytogenetic assays, than both the farmers with the "favorable" alleles and the matched controls. A unique observation is that, in individuals who had inherited any of the mentioned "unfavorable" alleles, farmers were consistently underrepresented. In conclusion, the Costa Rican farmers were exposed to genotoxic agents, most likely pesticides, which expressed the induction of biological and adverse health effects. The farmers who had inherited "unfavorable" metabolizing alleles were more susceptible to genotoxic effects than those with "favorable" alleles. Our genotype data suggest that the well-recognized "healthy worker effect" may be influenced by unrecognized occupational selection pressure against genetically susceptible individuals.  (+info)

(5/420) Geographical differences of cancer incidence in Costa Rica in relation to environmental and occupational pesticide exposure.

BACKGROUND: This study describes geographical differences in cancer incidence in Costa Rica, and investigates if some of these differences may be related to pesticides. METHODS: Data were combined from the cancer registry (1981-1993), the 1984 population census, the 1984 agricultural census, and a national pesticide data set. The 81 counties of Costa Rica were the units for the ecological analyses. Adjacent counties were grouped into 14 regions (3 urban and 11 rural) with relatively similar socioeconomic characteristics. County indices for population density and agricultural variables were constructed and categorized. Differences across regions and categories were assessed by comparing observed numbers of incident cases to expected values derived from national rates. Within the tertile of most rural counties, rate ratios between categories of high and low pesticide use were calculated. RESULTS: In urban regions, excesses were observed for lung, colorectal, breast, uterus, ovary, prostate, testis, kidney, and bladder cancers; and in rural regions for gastric, cervical, penile, and skin cancers. Skin cancers (lip, melanoma, non-melanocytic skin and penile cancer) occurred in excess in coffee growing areas with extensive use of paraquat and lead arsenate. In the most rural subset, heavy pesticide use was associated with an increase of cancer incidence overall and at a considerable number of specific sites, including lung cancer (relative risk [RR] 2.0 for men and 2.6 for women) and all female hormone-related cancers (RR between 1.3 and 1.8). CONCLUSIONS: Regions and populations at high risk for specific cancers were identified. Several hypotheses for associations between pesticides and cancer emerged. The findings call for studies at the individual level.  (+info)

(6/420) Visceral leishmaniasis in Costa Rica: first case report.

We describe a 15-month-old eutrophic immunocompetent male who presented with fever, hepatosplenomegaly, pancytopenia, and hypergammaglobulinemia. Leishmania amastigotes were identified in spleen and bone marrow specimens. In addition, tissue culture, animal inoculation, and isoenzyme analysis identified the parasite as Leishmania donovani infantum or Leishmania donovani chagasi. The infant was successfully treated with an antimonial drug. These findings represent the first case of visceral leishmaniasis reported in Costa Rica.  (+info)

(7/420) Biodiversity of Costa Rican salamanders: implications of high levels of genetic differentiation and phylogeographic structure for species formation.

Although salamanders are characteristic amphibians in Holarctic temperate habitats, in tropical regions they have diversified evolutionarily only in tropical America. An adaptive radiation centered in Middle America occurred late in the history of a single clade, the supergenus Bolitoglossa (Plethodontidae), and large numbers of species now occur in diverse habitats. Sublineages within this clade decrease in number from the northern to southern parts of Middle America, and in Costa Rica, there are but three. Despite this phylogenetic constraint, Costa Rica has many species; the number of salamander species on one local elevational transect in the Cordillera de Talamanca may be the largest for any such transect in the world. Extraordinary variation in sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b within a clade of the genus Bolitoglossa in Costa Rica reveals strong phylogeographic structure within a single species, Bolitoglossa pesrubra. Allozymic variation in 19 proteins reveals a pattern largely concordant with the mitochondrial DNA phylogeography. More species exist than are currently recognized. Diversification occurs in restricted geographic areas and involves sharp geographic and elevational differentiation and zonation. In their degree of genetic differentiation at a local scale, these species of the deep tropics exceed the known variation of extratropical salamanders, which also differ in being less restricted in elevational range. Salamanders display "tropicality" in that although speciose, they are usually local in distribution and rare. They display strong ecological and physiological differentiation that may contribute importantly to morphological divergence and species formation.  (+info)

(8/420) Population-based study of human papillomavirus infection and cervical neoplasia in rural Costa Rica.

BACKGROUND: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical neoplasia. Because few population-based studies have investigated the prevalence of type-specific infection in relation to cervical disease, we studied a high-risk population, estimating the prevalence of HPV infection and the risk associated with various HPV types. METHODS: We screened 9175 women in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, to obtain a referent standard final diagnosis, and tested 3024 women for more than 40 types of HPV with a polymerase chain reaction-based system. RESULTS: Among women with normal cytology, HPV infections peaked first in women younger than 25 years, and they peaked again at age 55 years or older with predominantly non-cancer-associated types of HPV and uncharacterized HPV types. Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSILs) (n = 189) decreased consistently with age. The prevalence of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSILs) (n = 128) peaked first around age 30 years and again at age 65 years or older. Seventy-three percent of LSILs were HPV positive, with HPV16 being the predominant type (16% of positive subjects). HPV was found in 89% of HSILs and 88% of cancers, with HPV16 being strongly predominant (51% and 53% of positive subjects). Virtually all HSILs and cancers had cancer-associated HPV types, with high odds ratios (ORs) and attributable fractions around 80%. Risk for HPV16 was particularly high (OR for HSILs = 320, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 97-1000; OR for cancer = 710, 95% CI = 110-4500). CONCLUSIONS: We confirm the early decline of HPV infection with age but note increased prevalence after menopause, which could be related to a second peak of HSILs, an observation that warrants further investigation. At least 80% of HPVs involved in cervical carcinogenesis in this population have been characterized. Polyvalent vaccines including the main cancer-associated HPV types may be able to prevent most cases of cervical disease in this region.  (+info)