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J Chronic Dis. 1985;38(5):385-95.

Biological and social predictors of health in an aging cohort.


A cohort of over 5000 men of Japanese ancestry, aged 46-69 and free of chronic disease at entry examination were studied for factors associated with remaining free of major chronic diseases during a 12 yr followup period. Over 1600 disease-free men were compared with 3400 individuals who developed coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancer or a variety of other conditions. From more than 30 variables examined in multivariate analyses, blood pressure, obesity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, serum glucose, uric acid and triglyceride, were inversely associated with staying healthy while forced vital capacity and years spent in Japan were directly associated with health. Of these nine variables, blood pressure was the strongest discriminator between healthy status and all categories of disease, while cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption were the next most important factors. This study suggests that the use of individuals who remain free of disease as a "standard" for health can facilitate the evaluation of risk factors for both total illness and a broad range of specific chronic diseases in a single population.

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