Benzodiazepines and risk of all cause mortality in adults: cohort study

Objectives To evaluate the risk of all cause mortality associated with initiating compared with not initiating benzodiazepines in adults, and to address potential treatment barriers and confounding related to the use of a non-active comparator group.

Design Retrospective cohort study.

Setting Large de-identified US commercial healthcare database (Optum Clinformatics Datamart).

Participants 1:1 high dimensional propensity score matched cohort of benzodiazepine initiators, and randomly selected benzodiazepine non-initiators with a medical visit within 14 days of the start of benzodiazepine treatment (n=1 252 988), between July 2004 and December 2013. To address treatment barriers and confounding, patients were required to have filled one or more prescriptions for any medication in the 90 days and 91-180 days before the index date (ie, the date of starting benzodiazepine treatment for initiators and the date of the selected medical visit for benzodiazepine non-initiators) and the high dimensional propensity score was estimated on the basis of more than 300 covariates.

Main outcome measure All cause mortality, determined by linkage with the Social Security Administration Death Master File.

Results Over a six month follow-up period, 5061 and 4691 deaths occurred among high dimensional propensity score matched benzodiazepine initiators versus non-initiators (9.3 v 9.4 events per 1000 person years; hazard ratio 1.00, 95% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.04). A 4% (95% confidence interval 1% to 8%) to 9% (2% to 7%) increase in mortality risk was observed associated with the start of benzodiazepine treatment for follow-ups of 12 and 48 months and in subgroups of younger patients and patients initiating short acting agents. In secondary analyses comparing 1:1 high dimensional propensity score matched patients initiating benzodiazepines with an active comparator, ie, patients starting treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants, benzodiazepine use was associated with a 9% (95% confidence interval 3% to 16%) increased risk.

Conclusions This large population based cohort study suggests either no increase or at most a minor increase in risk of all cause mortality associated with benzodiazepine initiation. If a detrimental effect exists, it is likely to be much smaller than previously stated and to have uncertain clinical relevance. Residual confounding likely explains at least part of the small increase in mortality risk observed in selected analyses.

 Reference: BMJ 2017;358:j2941

Incretin based treatments and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis

Objective To assess the impact of incretin based treatment on all cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials.

Data sources Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and

Eligibility criteria Randomised controlled trials that compared glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists or dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors with placebo or active anti-diabetic drugs in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Data collection and analysis Paired reviewers independently screened citations, assessed risk of bias of included studies, and extracted data. Peto’s method was used as the primary approach to pool effect estimates from trials, sensitivity analyses were carried out with other statistical approaches, and meta-regression was applied for six prespecified hypotheses to explore heterogeneity. The GRADE approach was used to rate the quality of evidence.

Results 189 randomised controlled trials (n=155 145) were included, all of which were at low to moderate risk of bias; 77 reported no events of death and 112 reported 3888 deaths among 151 614 patients. Meta-analysis of 189 trials showed no difference in all cause mortality between incretin drugs versus control (1925/84 136 v 1963/67 478; odds ratio 0.96, 95% confidence interval 0.90 to 1.02, I2=0%; risk difference 3 fewer events (95% confidence interval 7 fewer to 1 more) per 1000 patients over five years; moderate quality evidence). Results suggested the possibility of a mortality benefit with GLP-1 agonists but not DPP-4 inhibitors, but the subgroup hypothesis had low credibility. Sensitivity analyses showed no important differences in the estimates of effects.

Conclusions Current evidence does not support the suggestion that incretin based treatment increases all cause mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. Further studies are warranted to examine if the effect differs between GLP-1 agonists versus DPP-4 inhibitors.

Reference: BMJ 2017;357:j2499

Mortality from different causes associated with meat, heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study: population based cohort study

Objective To determine the association of different types of meat intake and meat associated compounds with overall and cause specific mortality.

Design Population based cohort study.

Setting Baseline dietary data of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study (prospective cohort of the general population from six states and two metropolitan areas in the US) and 16 year follow-up data until 31 December 2011.

Participants 536 969 AARP members aged 50-71 at baseline.

Exposures Intake of total meat, processed and unprocessed red meat (beef, lamb, and pork) and white meat (poultry and fish), heme iron, and nitrate/nitrite from processed meat based on dietary questionnaire. Adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression models were used with the lowest fifth of calorie adjusted intakes as reference categories.

Main outcome measure Mortality from any cause during follow-up.

Results An increased risk of all cause mortality (hazard ratio for highest versus lowest fifth 1.26, 95% confidence interval 1.23 to 1.29) and death due to nine different causes associated with red meat intake was observed. Both processed and unprocessed red meat intakes were associated with all cause and cause specific mortality. Heme iron and processed meat nitrate/nitrite were independently associated with increased risk of all cause and cause specific mortality. Mediation models estimated that the increased mortality associated with processed red meat was influenced by nitrate intake (37.0-72.0%) and to a lesser degree by heme iron (20.9-24.1%). When the total meat intake was constant, the highest fifth of white meat intake was associated with a 25% reduction in risk of all cause mortality compared with the lowest intake level. Almost all causes of death showed an inverse association with white meat intake.

Conclusions The results show increased risks of all cause mortality and death due to nine different causes associated with both processed and unprocessed red meat, accounted for, in part, by heme iron and nitrate/nitrite from processed meat. They also show reduced risks associated with substituting white meat, particularly unprocessed white meat.

Reference: BMJ 2017;357:j1957

Mortality and Cardiovascular Disease in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes


Long-term trends in excess risk of death and cardiovascular outcomes have not been extensively studied in persons with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.


We included patients registered in the Swedish National Diabetes Register from 1998 through 2012 and followed them through 2014. Trends in deaths and cardiovascular events were estimated with Cox regression and standardized incidence rates. For each patient, controls who were matched for age, sex, and county were randomly selected from the general population.


Among patients with type 1 diabetes, absolute changes during the study period in the incidence rates of sentinel outcomes per 10,000 person-years were as follows: death from any cause, −31.4 (95% confidence interval [CI], −56.1 to −6.7); death from cardiovascular disease, −26.0 (95% CI, −42.6 to −9.4); death from coronary heart disease, −21.7 (95% CI, −37.1 to −6.4); and hospitalization for cardiovascular disease, −45.7 (95% CI, −71.4 to −20.1). Absolute changes per 10,000 person-years among patients with type 2 diabetes were as follows: death from any cause, −69.6 (95% CI, −95.9 to −43.2); death from cardiovascular disease, −110.0 (95% CI, −128.9 to −91.1); death from coronary heart disease, −91.9 (95% CI, −108.9 to −75.0); and hospitalization for cardiovascular disease, −203.6 (95% CI, −230.9 to −176.3). Patients with type 1 diabetes had roughly 40% greater reduction in cardiovascular outcomes than controls, and patients with type 2 diabetes had roughly 20% greater reduction than controls. Reductions in fatal outcomes were similar in patients with type 1 diabetes and controls, whereas patients with type 2 diabetes had smaller reductions in fatal outcomes than controls.


In Sweden from 1998 through 2014, mortality and the incidence of cardiovascular outcomes declined substantially among persons with diabetes, although fatal outcomes declined less among those with type 2 diabetes than among controls. (Funded by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions and others.)

Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States

Key Points

Question  What is the estimated mortality due to heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes (cardiometabolic deaths) associated with suboptimal intakes of 10 dietary factors in the United States?

Findings  In 2012, suboptimal intake of dietary factors was associated with an estimated 318 656 cardiometabolic deaths, representing 45.4% of cardiometabolic deaths. The highest proportions of cardiometabolic deaths were estimated to be related to excess sodium intake, insufficient intake of nuts/seeds, high intake of processed meats, and low intake of seafood omega-3 fats.

Meaning  Suboptimal intake of specific foods and nutrients was associated with a substantial proportion of deaths due to heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.


Importance  In the United States, national associations of individual dietary factors with specific cardiometabolic diseases are not well established.

Objective  To estimate associations of intake of 10 specific dietary factors with mortality due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (cardiometabolic mortality) among US adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A comparative risk assessment model incorporated data and corresponding uncertainty on population demographics and dietary habits from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999-2002: n = 8104; 2009-2012: n = 8516); estimated associations of diet and disease from meta-analyses of prospective studies and clinical trials with validity analyses to assess potential bias; and estimated disease-specific national mortality from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Exposures  Consumption of 10 foods/nutrients associated with cardiometabolic diseases: fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, unprocessed red meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), polyunsaturated fats, seafood omega-3 fats, and sodium.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Estimated absolute and percentage mortality due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in 2012. Disease-specific and demographic-specific (age, sex, race, and education) mortality and trends between 2002 and 2012 were also evaluated.

Results  In 2012, 702 308 cardiometabolic deaths occurred in US adults, including 506 100 from heart disease (371 266 coronary heart disease, 35 019 hypertensive heart disease, and 99 815 other cardiovascular disease), 128 294 from stroke (16 125 ischemic, 32 591 hemorrhagic, and 79 578 other), and 67 914 from type 2 diabetes. Of these, an estimated 318 656 (95% uncertainty interval [UI], 306 064-329 755; 45.4%) cardiometabolic deaths per year were associated with suboptimal intakes—48.6% (95% UI, 46.2%-50.9%) of cardiometabolic deaths in men and 41.8% (95% UI, 39.3%-44.2%) in women; 64.2% (95% UI, 60.6%-67.9%) at younger ages (25-34 years) and 35.7% (95% UI, 33.1%-38.1%) at older ages (≥75 years); 53.1% (95% UI, 51.6%-54.8%) among blacks, 50.0% (95% UI, 48.2%-51.8%) among Hispanics, and 42.8% (95% UI, 40.9%-44.5%) among whites; and 46.8% (95% UI, 44.9%-48.7%) among lower-, 45.7% (95% UI, 44.2%-47.4%) among medium-, and 39.1% (95% UI, 37.2%-41.2%) among higher-educated individuals. The largest numbers of estimated diet-related cardiometabolic deaths were related to high sodium (66 508 deaths in 2012; 9.5% of all cardiometabolic deaths), low nuts/seeds (59 374; 8.5%), high processed meats (57 766; 8.2%), low seafood omega-3 fats (54 626; 7.8%), low vegetables (53 410; 7.6%), low fruits (52 547; 7.5%), and high SSBs (51 694; 7.4%). Between 2002 and 2012, population-adjusted US cardiometabolic deaths per year decreased by 26.5%. The greatest decline was associated with insufficient polyunsaturated fats (−20.8% relative change [95% UI, −18.5% to −22.8%]), nuts/seeds (−18.0% [95% UI, −14.6% to −21.0%]), and excess SSBs (−14.5% [95% UI, −12.0% to −16.9%]). The greatest increase was associated with unprocessed red meats (+14.4% [95% UI, 9.1%-19.5%]).

Conclusions and Relevance  Dietary factors were estimated to be associated with a substantial proportion of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These results should help identify priorities, guide public health planning, and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health.

JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924.

Sustained enjoyment of life and mortality at older ages: analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Objective To test whether the number of reports of enjoyment of life over a four year period is quantitatively associated with all cause mortality, and with death from cardiovascular disease and from other causes.

Design and setting Longitudinal observational population study using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a nationally representative sample of older men and women living in England.

Participants 9365 men and women aged 50 years or older (mean 63, standard deviation 9.3) at recruitment.

Main outcome measures Time to death, based on mortality between the third phase of data collection (wave 3 in 2006) and March 2013 (up to seven years).

Results Subjective wellbeing with measures of enjoyment of life were assessed in 2002 (wave 1), 2004 (wave 2), and 2006 (wave 3). 2264 (24%) respondents reported no enjoyment of life on any assessment, with 1833 (20%) reporting high enjoyment on one report of high enjoyment of life, 2063 (22%) on two reports, and 3205 (34%) on all three occasions. 1310 deaths were recorded during follow-up. Mortality was inversely associated with the number of occasions on which participants reported high enjoyment of life. Compared with the no high enjoyment group, the hazard ratio for all cause mortality was 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.70 to 0.99) for two reports of enjoyment of life, and 0.76 (0.64 to 0.89) for three reports, after adjustment for demographic factors, baseline health, mobility impairment, and depressive symptoms. The same association was observed after deaths occurring within two years of the third enjoyment measure were excluded (0.90 (0.85 to 0.95) for every additional report of enjoyment), and in the complete case analysis (0.90 (0.83 to 0.96)).

Conclusions This is an observational study, so causal conclusions cannot be drawn. Nonetheless, the results add a new dimension to understanding the significance of subjective wellbeing for health outcomes by documenting the importance of sustained wellbeing over time.

Reference: BMJ 2016;355:i6267

Combined associations of body weight and lifestyle factors with all cause and cause specific mortality in men and women: prospective cohort study

Objective To evaluate the combined associations of diet, physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and smoking with body weight on risk of all cause and cause specific mortality.

Design Longitudinal study with up to 32 years of follow-up.

Setting Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2012) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2012).

Participants 74 582 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 39 284 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who were free from cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline.

Main outcome measures Exposures included body mass index (BMI), score on the alternate healthy eating index, level of physical activity, smoking habits, and alcohol drinking while outcome was mortality (all cause, cardiovascular, cancer). Cox proportional hazard models were used to calculate the adjusted hazard ratios of all cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality with their 95% confidence intervals across categories of BMI, with 22.5-24.9 as the reference.

Results During up to 32 years of follow-up, there were 30 013 deaths (including 10 808 from cancer and 7189 from cardiovascular disease). In each of the four categories of BMI studied (18.5-22.4, 22.5-24.9, 25-29.9, ≥30), people with one or more healthy lifestyle factors had a significantly lower risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality than individuals with no low risk lifestyle factors. A combination of at least three low risk lifestyle factors and BMI between 18.5-22.4 was associated with the lowest risk of all cause (hazard ratio 0.39, 95% confidence interval 0.35 to 0.43), cancer (0.40, 0.34 to 0.47), and cardiovascular (0.37, 0.29 to 0.46) mortality, compared with those with BMI between 22.5-24.9 and none of the four low risk lifestyle factors.

Conclusion Although people with a higher BMI can have lower risk of premature mortality if they also have at least one low risk lifestyle factor, the lowest risk of premature mortality is in people in the 18.5-22.4 BMI range with high score on the alternate healthy eating index, high level of physical activity, moderate alcohol drinking, and who do not smoke. It is important to consider diet and lifestyle factors in the evaluation of the association between BMI and mortality.

Reference: BMJ 2016;355:i5855