Biological Aging and Cox Hazard Analysis of Mortality Trends in a Mennonite Community From South-Central Kansas
Melton, PE and Zlojutro, M and Kimminau, K and Crawford, MH, Biological Aging and Cox Hazard Analysis of Mortality Trends in a Mennonite Community From South-Central Kansas, American Journal of Human Biology, 18, (3) pp. 387-401. ISSN 1042-0533 (2006) [Refereed Article]
This study investigated mortality in 568 individuals from the Goessel Mennonite community in rural central Kansas. There were three main objectives to this research: 1) characterize mortality trends within a biologically well-defined Mennonite community; 2) determine what biochemical, morphological, and physiological risk factors could be related to all-cause mortality, stratified by age and sex; and 3) compare these results to previously described variables that were associated with both biological age and mortality in this population. Mortality data were obtained from three sources: Kansas Vital Records, the Social Security death index, and church records. In total, 221 (39%) individuals were found to have died in this population between January 1980-June 2002. Analogous to the larger US population, the three leading causes of death in this community were heart disease, cancer, and stroke, accounting for 60% of all deaths. Besides advancing age, the greatest biological risk factor in this population was decreased amounts of albumin in men (relative risk, 2.47), potentially indicating underreported cases of either chronic kidney disease or frailty syndrome for males. Cox proportional hazard models demonstrated that increased amounts of total cholesterol may provide a protective effect for elderly individuals. We conclude, based on the previously described heritability of both albumin (h(2) = 0.40) and total cholesterol (h(2) = 0.50) in this population, that underlying genetic factors associated with both chronic degenerative diseases and biological aging may have important implications for understanding mortality patterns in this community.