Legalized physician-assisted suicide in Oregon--the first year's experience.
BACKGROUND AND METHODS: On October 27, 1997, Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide. We collected data on all terminally ill Oregon residents who received prescriptions for lethal medications under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act and who died in 1998. The data were obtained from physicians' reports, death certificates, and interviews with physicians. We compared persons who took lethal medications prescribed under the act with those who died from similar illnesses but did not receive prescriptions for lethal medications. RESULTS: Information on 23 persons who received prescriptions for lethal medications was reported to the Oregon Health Division; 15 died after taking the lethal medications, 6 died from underlying illnesses, and 2 were alive as of January 1, 1999. The median age of the 15 patients who died after taking lethal medications was 69 years; 8 were male, and all 15 were white. Thirteen of the 15 patients had cancer. The case patients and controls were similar with regard to sex, race, urban or rural residence, level of education, health insurance coverage, and hospice enrollment. No case patients or controls expressed concern about the financial impact of their illness. One case patient and 15 controls expressed concern about inadequate control of pain (P=0.10). The case patients were more likely than the controls to have never married (P=0.04) and were more likely to be concerned about loss of autonomy due to illness (P=0.01) and loss of control of bodily functions (P=0.02). At death, 21 percent of the case patients and 84 percent of the controls were completely disabled (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: During the first year of legalized physician-assisted suicide in Oregon, the decision to request and use a prescription for lethal medication was associated with concern about loss of autonomy or control of bodily functions, not with fear of intractable pain or concern about financial loss. In addition, we found that the choice of physician-assisted suicide was not associated with level of education or health insurance coverage. (+info)
Use of wood stoves and risk of cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract: a case-control study.
BACKGROUND: Incidence rates for cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract in Southern Brazil are among the highest in the world. A case-control study was designed to identify the main risk factors for carcinomas of mouth, pharynx, and larynx in the region. We tested the hypothesis of whether use of wood stoves is associated with these cancers. METHODS: Information on known and potential risk factors was obtained from interviews with 784 cases and 1568 non-cancer controls. We estimated the effect of use of wood stove by conditional logistic regression, with adjustment for smoking, alcohol consumption and for other sociodemographic and dietary variables chosen as empirical confounders based on a change-in-estimate criterion. RESULTS: After extensive adjustment for all the empirical confounders the odds ratio (OR) for all upper aero-digestive tract cancers was 2.68 (95% confidence interval [CI] : 2.2-3.3). Increased risks were also seen in site-specific analyses for mouth (OR = 2.73; 95% CI: 1.8-4.2), pharyngeal (OR = 3.82; 95% CI: 2.0-7.4), and laryngeal carcinomas (OR = 2.34; 95% CI: 1.2-4.7). Significant risk elevations remained for each of the three anatomic sites and for all sites combined even after we purposefully biased the analyses towards the null hypothesis by adjusting the effect of wood stove use only for positive empirical confounders. CONCLUSIONS: The association of use of wood stoves with cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract is genuine and unlikely to result from insufficient control of confounding. Due to its high prevalence, use of wood stoves may be linked to as many as 30% of all cancers occurring in the region. (+info)
Hygiene behaviour in rural Nicaragua in relation to diarrhoea.
BACKGROUND: Childhood diarrhoea is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Nicaragua. Amongst the risk factors for its transmission are 'poor' hygiene practices. We investigated the effect of a large number of hygiene practices on diarrhoeal disease in children aged <2 years and validated the technique of direct observation of hygiene behaviour. METHODS: A prospective follow-up study was carried out in a rural zone of Nicaragua. From the database of a previously conducted case-control study on water and sanitation 172 families were recruited, half of which had experienced a higher than expected rate of diarrhoea in their children and the other half a lower rate. Hygiene behaviour was observed over two mornings and diarrhoea incidence was recorded with a calendar, filled out by the mother, and collected every week for 5 months. RESULTS: Of 46 'good' practices studied, 39 were associated with a lower risk of diarrhoea, five were unrelated and only for two a higher risk was observed. Washing of hands, domestic cleanliness (kitchen, living room, yard) and the use of a diaper/underclothes by the child had the strongest protective effect. Schooling (>3 years of primary school) and better economic position (possession of a radio) had a positive influence on general hygiene behaviour, education having a slightly stronger effect when a radio was present. Individual hygiene behaviour appeared to be highly variable in contrast with the consistent behaviour of the community as a whole. Feasible and appropriate indicators of hygiene behaviour were found to be domestic cleanliness and the use of a diaper or underclothes by the child. CONCLUSION: A consistent relationship between almost all hygiene practices and diarrhoea was detected, more schooling producing better hygiene behaviour. The high variability of hygiene behaviour at the individual level requires repeated observations (at least two) before and after the hygiene education in the event one wants to measure the impact of the campaign on the individual. (+info)
Post-traumatic epilepsy: its complications and impact on occupational rehabilitation--an epidemiological study from India.
The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of seizure disorder, neuropsychiatric disorders and reproductive outcome of employees with post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) and their effect on occupational rehabilitation. A case-comparison group study design was used to compare 30 subjects with PTE with (1) 129 non-PTE and (2) 55 non-PTE matched control employees. The 55 non-PTE matched controls were selected from the 129 non-PTE employees on the basis of age, age at onset of seizure, age at marriage and length of employment. The PTE group had a lower fertility rate than the controls and more neuropsychiatric disorders and seizure disability. PTE employees were more occupationally rehabilitated than non-PTE employees (p = 0.033). Of the 30 PTE subjects, thirteen who were rehabilitated by placement had more seizure disability (p = 0.007) and a higher fertility rate (p = 0.018). High prevalence of seizure disability and increased fertility rate among the placed PTE employees suggested that there might be some association between severity of seizures and increased production of live offspring and work placement. Work suitability or placement should not be judged on clinical assessment only but psychosocial seizure assessment, disability evaluation and other psychometric tests which are of equal importance. (+info)
Methodological issues in biomonitoring of low level exposure to benzene.
Data from a pilot study on unmetabolized benzene and trans,trans muconic acid (t,t-MA) excretion in filling station attendants and unexposed controls were used to afford methodological issues in the biomonitoring of low benzene exposures (around 0.1 ppm). Urinary concentrations of benzene and t,t-MA were measured by dynamic head-space capillary GC/FID and HPLC, respectively. The accuracy of the HPLC determination of t,t-MA was assessed in terms of inter- and intra-method reliability. The adequacy of urinary t,t-MA and benzene as biological markers of low benzene exposure was evaluated by analysing the relationship between personal exposure to benzene and biomarker excretion. Filling station attendants excreted significantly higher amounts of benzene, but not of t,t-MA, than controls. Adjusting for occupational benzene exposure, smokers excreted significantly higher amounts of t,t-MA, but not of unmetabolized benzene, than nonsmokers. A comparative analysis of the present and previously published biomonitoring surveys showed a good inter-study agreement regarding the amount of t,t-MA and unmetabolized benzene excreted (about 0.1-0.2 mg/l and 1-2 micrograms/l, respectively) per unit of exposure (0.1 ppm). For each biomarker, based on the distribution of parameters observed in the pilot study, we calculated the minimum sample size required to estimate the population mean with given confidence and precision. (+info)
Post-shift changes in pulmonary function in a cement factory in eastern Saudi Arabia.
This cross-sectional study was conducted in 1992 in the oldest of three Portland cement producing factories in Eastern Saudi Arabia. The respirable dust level was in excess of the recommended ACGIH level in all sections. Spirometry was done for 149 cement workers and 348 controls, using a Vitalograph spirometer. FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC% and FEF25-75% were calculated and corrected to BTPS. A significantly higher post-shift reduction FEV1, FEV1/FVC% and FEF25-75% was observed in the exposed subjects. Multiple regression analysis showed a significant relationship between post-shift changes and exposure to cement dust but failed to support any relationship with smoking. These findings may indicate an increase in the bronchial muscle tone leading to some degree of bronchoconstriction as a result of an irritant effect induced by the acute exposure to cement dust. (+info)
Alteration of circadian time structure of blood pressure caused by night shift schedule.
The effects of night shift schedules on circadian time structure of blood pressure were studied in seven healthy young subjects by continuous monitoring of blood pressure every 30 min for 72 h. In the control experiment, subjects were instructed to sleep at regular times with the light off at 00.00 h and the light on at 07.00 h. In the shift experiment, they were instructed to go to bed at 06.00 h and wake up at 11.00 h. The circadian rhythm of blood pressure rapidly phase delayed by 3.5 h in the second night shift day as a group phenomenon. Individual differences in changes in power spectral patterns of blood pressure were found in the night shift schedule. Ultradian rhythmicity of blood pressure was more pronounced in three subjects, whereas the circadian rhythmicity was maintained in four subjects. These findings held when the adaptation to shift work was taken into account. (+info)
Relation between obesity and breast cancer in young women.
This study was conducted to assess the relation between body size and risk of breast cancer among young women. A case-control study was conducted among women aged 21-45 years living in three counties in Washington State. Cases were women born after 1944 with invasive or in situ breast cancer that was diagnosed between January 1, 1983, and April 30, 1990. Controls were selected using random digit dialing and were frequency-matched to cases on the basis of age and county of residence. Interviews took place between 1986 and 1992. Body size was evaluated using indices from several different time periods. After adjustment for confounders, a decreased risk of breast cancer was found for women in the highest quintile of body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)2) as compared with the lowest quintile (for maximum lifetime body mass index, odds ratio = 0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.51-0.94). Age modified the relation between body size and risk of breast cancer. The odds ratio for women in the highest quintile of maximum body mass index who were aged 21-35 years was 0.29 (95% CI 0.16-0.55), as compared with an odds ratio of 1.5 for women aged 36-45 years (95% CI 0.9-2.5) (p for interaction = 0.003). This study supports prior research showing a decreased risk of breast cancer associated with increased body size among premenopausal or young women. More detailed analysis in this study found a strong effect that was limited to the youngest age group (< or = 35 years). (+info)